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n R lOS'3 

WINTER 1990 
Published by the American Journalism Historians Association 





Truth Versus Good 

Great Walls 

Covering Cold Fusion 



Oliver Wendell Holmes 

And Their Children 
After Them 

Mary Heaton Vorse 

Writing Red 

The Good Times 

The Battle to Control 
Broadcast News 

The Ambivalent Image 

From Whistle Stop 
to Sound Bite 

Violence and Terror 
in the Mass Media 

. . . and more 


• Richard Harding Davis and the Boer War 
The British and Boers Rehearse for World War I 
While Davis Watches. 

John C. Bromley 12 

• The Place of Biography in the History 
of News Women 

What Role Should Biographical Research Play 
in Writing the History of Women Journalists? 
Catherine C. Mitchell 23 

• Bibliography 

Scholarship on Women Working 

in Journalism 

Articles and Books on Women Journalists, 

Categorized by Gerda Lerner's Stages 

of Feminist History. 

Catherine C. Mitchell 33 

• Historiographical Essay 

Women in Journalism: Contributors 

to Male Experience or Voices 

of Feminine Expression? 

Historians of Women Journalists Seek to Move 

Beyond the "Great Women" Approach. 

Maurine H. Beasley 39 


John Pauly 



Pamela A. Brown 

Rider College 

Gary Whitby 

Central Missouri State 


Nancy Roberts 



Sharon M.W. Bass 


Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 


Barbara Buckley 



Wm. David Sloan 


Gary Whitby 

Central Missouri State 



Maurine Beasley 



Leomard Teel 

Georgia State 


Donald Avery 

Southern Mississippi 


Perry Ashley 

South Carolina 

Roy Atwood 

Elaine Berland 


Lester Carson 


Edward Caudill 


Barbara Qoud 

Nevada-Las Vegas 

Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Nancy Roberts 



American Journalism publishes 
articles, research notes, book 
reviews, and correspondence 
dealing with the history of 
journalism. Such contribu- 
tions may focus on social, 
economic, intellectual, politi- 
cal, or legal issues. American 
Journalism also welcomes ar- 
ticles that treat the history of 
communication in general; the 
history of broadcasting, ad- 
vertising, and public relations; 
the history of media outside 
the United States; and theo- 
retical issues in the literatvire 
or methods of media history. 

SUBMISSIONS. All articles, 
research notes, and cof re- 
spondence should be sent to 
Professor John Pauly, Editor, 
American Journalism, Faculty 
of Communication, Univer- 
sity of Tulsa, 600 S. College 
Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma 
74104. Authors should send 
four copies of manuscripts 
submitted for publication as 
articles. American Journalism 
follows the style require- 
ments of The Chicago Manual 
of Style. The maximum length 
for most manuscripts is 
twenty-five pages, not includ- 
ing notes and tables. 

All submissions are blind 
refereed by three readers, and 
the review process typically 
takes about three months. 
Manuscripts will be returned 
only if the author has includ- 
ed a self-addressed stamped 

Research notes are typically 
three- to six-page manu- 
scripts, written without for- 
mal documentation. Such 
notes, which are not blind 
refereed, may include reports 
of research in progress, dis- 
cussions of methodology, an- 
notations on new archival 
sources, commentaries on is- 
sues in journalism history, or 
suggestions for future re- 
search. Authors who wish to 
contribute research notes are 
invited to query the editor. 

Anyone who wishes to re- 
view books for American 
Journalism, or to propose a 
book for review, should con- 
tact Professor Nancy Roberts, 
Book Review Editor, American 
Journalism, School of Journal- 
ism and Mass Commimica- 
tion. University of Miimesota, 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 

American Journalism is pro- 
duced on a Macintosh com- 
puter, using Microsoft Word 
and Pagemaker software. Au- 
thors of manuscripts accepted 
for publication are encovir- 
aged, but not required, to 
submit their work on a EXDS- 
based or Macintosh disk. 

ADVERTISING. Information 
on advertising rates and 
placements is available from 
Professor Alf Pratte, Adver- 
tising Manager, American 
Journalism, Department of 
Commimications, Brigham 
Young University, Provo, 
Utah 84602. 

Journalism (ISSN 0882-1127) 
is published quarterly by the 
American Journalism Histori- 
ans Association, at the Uni- 
versity of Tulsa. Subscriptions 
to American Journalism cost 
$15 a year, $10 for students, 
and include a one-year mem- 
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face mail, $25 for air mail. For 
further information, please 
contact the Editor. 

COPYRIGHT. © American 
Journalism Historians Asso- 
ciation, 1989. Articles in 
American Journalism may be 
photocopied for fair use in 
teaching, research, criticism, 
and news reporting, in accor- 
dance with Sections 107 and 
108 of the U.S. Copyright 
Law. For all other purposes, 
users must obtain permission 
from the Editor. 

REFEREES. Thanks to the 
following editorial board 
members, who have recently 
read manuscripts for 
American Journalism. 

James Allen 


Warren Barnard 

Indiana State 

Pat Bradley 


John Bromley 

Northern Colorado 

James Brown 


Michael Buchholz 

Indiana State 

Linda Cobb-Reiley 


Patrick Daley 

New Hampshire 

Harold Davis (ret.) 

Georgia State 

John DeMott 

Memphis State 

Ralph Engelman 

Long Island 

Jean Folkerts 

Mount Vernon 

Warren Francke 


Donald Godfrey 

Arizona State 

Samuel P. Kennedy HI 


Larry Lorenz 

New Orleans 

Richard Nelson 

Kansas State 

John Nerone 


Marvin Olasky 


Darwin Payne 

Southern Methodist 

Steven Phipps 

Indianal Purdue at Ft. Wayne 

Sam Riley 

Virginia Polytechnic 

Michael Robertson 

Lafayette College 

Norman Sims 



CONVERSATION IS the real public work of scholar- 
ship. In our talk we call forth that society of tolerance 
and mutual respect in which we hope to dwell. With 
friends at conventions, with students in the cafeteria, 
with our own thoughts in the midnight hour — 
through such work we enact the self-reflective lives 
we hope to lead. 

Sometimes we don't stop long enough to speak, 
however. We measure out our lives in books and 
articles and count out conversation as a wasteful, un- 
disciplined, frivolous, dissipating pleasure. We spend 
our words in private, imagining readers we will 
never meet, anxiously anticipating the flattery we 
take to be our due. 

But in our best moments we give ourselves over to 
one another without regret. The new Research Notes 
section in American Journalism aims to continue just 
such conversations. Like our talk, these notes will 
range over many topics — our work in progress, our 
collective state of mind, our methods and resources, 
our doubts and hopes. In such essays writers and 
readers alike may hear themselves speak, and dis- 
cover the ties that bind them. 

With this new volume American Journalism wel- 
comes a new group of editors. Nancy Roberts, of the 
University of Minnesota, takes over as book review 
editor, and Pamela Brown, of Rider College, as one of 
the associate editors. Gary Whitby, out of gentle- 
manly duty and a sense of pity for the new editor, has 
agreed to serve one more year as associate editor. 

- J.P. 



CAN TRUTH BE a liabil- 
ity of good journalism? 
Doesn't a standard of 
"good description" actu- 
ally prevail, for which 
truth is not always a neces- 
sary condition? And isn't 
this standard ethically ac- 

These are questions this 
essay addresses. The dis- 
cussion revolves around 
journalism and philosophy, 
but I hope to make the dis- 
cussion relevant to history. 
Historians, like journalists, 
have always chosen to be 
less truthful than it is pos- 
sible to be. 

Bring up the problem of 
truth with a journalist, and 
the talk is likely to turn 
sanctimonious. The issue 
of truth typically is domi- 
nated by questions of 
truthtelling — the avoid- 
ance of deception — rather 
than difficulties in report- 
ing observations. Deliber- 
ate, deceptive falsification 
in journailism is recognized 
universally as a violation 
of truth in both an ethical 
and descriptive sense. But 
it can be argued that truth 
as a judgment of factual 
"correctness" is neither a 
sufficient nor a necessary 
condition of all good de- 
scriptive statements. 
"Good" description as a 
portrait of reality can vio- 
late truth as a standard. In 
journalism, it often does 
so. Indeed, under some 

circumstances, it must al- 
ways do so. 

What are the concepts of 
truth and good description 
all about as ideals of obser- 
vation, and what is their 
connection? Philosopher 
Amartya Sen suggests that 
as absolute standards they 
converge as reality seen 
and described in a straight- 
forward manner. But Sen 
goes on to explain that in 
practice the ideals diverge. 
Truth remains the absolute 
philosophical standard of 
perfection, but good de- 
scription becomes relative 
to human situations. Good 
description is a standard 
of what is possible and 
feasible under the multiple 
conditions of observation 
and reporting. Sen distin- 
guishes between ideal 
good description (the best 
depiction of something) 
and good description (the 
best depiction of some- 
thing to give, making the 
best of a situation in prac- 
tice). It is the latter crite- 
rion that prevails in de- 
scriptive activity, from the 
sciences to journalism. 

Sen raises the pertinent 
question directly: How can 
a false description be good? 
Writing primarily in terms 
of economics, he describes 
two basic instances. The 
first involves departures 
from literal truth, such as 
approximations, meta- 
phors, and simplifications. 
These are fundamental 
contingencies of under- 
standing — of thinking it- 
self — and all are devia- 

tions from literal truth, al- 
though it can be said that 
they contribute to a more 
comprehensive sense of 
truth. What this ambiguity 
about truth manifests is a 
paradox: literal truth is 
violated for a general 
truth. A kind of fiction be- 
comes necessary for a cer- 
tain kind of generalized 

Contemplating this con- 
dition of description is a 
little like trying to imagine 
a conversation between 
certain characters found in 
Gulliver's Travels. At the 
Grand Academy of Lagado, 
it was believed that words 
could be abolished and re- 
placed with objects carried 
about in pockets and 
bundles and held up to 
communicate. In contrast 
to this literal objectivity, 
inhabitants of Laputa drew 
upon mathematics and 
music to converse, com- 
municating with rhombs 
and ellipses, notes and 
tones. The nature of good 
description lies somewhere 
in between. 

Sen's second instance of 
good but false description 
is more involved. "De- 
scriptions may have objec- 
tives the pursuit of which 
can be helped by depar- 
tures from truth — even in 
the broad sense," he writes 
in Choice, Welfare and Meas- 
urement (1982). Although 
descriptive statements can 
be distinguished from 
other categories of declara- 
tive expressions, such as 
predictive and prescriptive 

pronouncements, descrip- 
tion can be motivated by 
concerns such as prediction 
and prescription. 

Sen relates how this oc- 
curs in economics. Utility 
theory, for example, as- 
sumes a highly rationalis- 
tic model of human behav- 
ior in order to describe the 
marketplace in terms of 
self-interest. This model 
distorts human nature, but 
offers a useftil depiction 
for predictive economics. 
In prescriptive economics, 
the concern with social 
problem-solving demands 
that other conditions be 
met. Economists have to 
define poverty in terms of 
socially held values and 
political goals, while at the 
same time avoiding labels 
thought demeaning for de- 
scribing people. Calling 
America's poor "disadvan- 
taged," for example, incor- 
porates a prescriptive ide- 
ology of opportunity. 
Gandhi attempted to raise 
the prospects of India's 
"tmtouchables" by calling 
them "Harijan," or "chil- 
dren of God." Many such 
descriptions are artificial, 
but they are not meaning- 
less in characterizing the 
world, even if they rely on 
a flexible notion of truth. 

Sen criticizes economic 
description for being too 
limited in its motivating 
interests. One such moti- 
vation that looms large in 
journalism is the need to 
communicate effectively. 
Philosopher M.A. Slote 
uses the biblical story of 
Jonah to illustrate the 
problem. He raises the 
question whether a story- 
teller is bound to report 
that Jonah was swallowed 

by a fish, or may the story- 
teller substitute the more 
impressive notion of a 
whale. For some audiences, 
the meaning of the story is 
not distorted but enhanced. 
For others the story is made 
inaccurate, even as fan- 
tasy. Credibility is moved 
in either direction by the 
substitution. The story- 
teller must fathom the 
depth of the listener's com- 
prehension and weigh the 
listener's own criteria of 
meaning before making a 
decision about good de- 
scription. The effort is 
made by every kind of 
storyteller, including the 
journalist, who wishes to 
communicate essential 

Likewise, the imperative 
of journalism to be current 
and timely even though it 
may result in reporting 
some false observations 
may be attributed to a par- 
ticular ideal of efficient 
communication. Timeli- 
ness practiced too exten- 
sively and exclusively may 
lead journalists to needless 
distortion through haste. 
But the news story can still 
offer good description 
within its own time-bound 
limitations, much as a 
good haiku or sonnet can 
express a poetic vision of 
reality despite its self-im- 
posed space limitations. 

A similar argument on 
the motivation to commu- 
nicate can be made about 
what Sen calls "stylized 
facts," summary state- 
ments that project general 
observations which do not 
exactly fit the specifics of 
individual cases, or pre- 
cisely account for all cases. 
Such summaries abound 

in the social sciences as 
hypothetical constructs, 
ideal types, or simply as 
descriptive shorthand. In 
journalism, they may be 
found as composites and 
less formal attempts at 
representational descrip- 
tion, summarizing and 
drawing attention to im- 
portant characteristics or 
prevalent details. Sen 
writes for his own field: 
'There is no reason why 
descriptive statements in 
economics have to aspire 
after mechanical accuracy 
even when it conflicts with 
comprehension and ab- 
sorption." Deception, of 
course, raises an ethical is- 
sue. But deception is not 
necessary if intent and 
method of portrayal are 
part of the description. 
This should be the case for 
everything representa- 
tional, such as polling re- 
sults used by the press to 
represent public opinion, a 
common form of stylized 
fact. Sen rightfully reminds 
us to be cautious in the 
practice of stylized de- 
scription. It should never 
be confused with achiev- 
ing the best description of 
anything — only, perhaps, 
the best to be offered un- 
der some limiting circum- 

Another complexity of 
truth is that often it is not 
simply real, but realizable. 
A good journalist with in- 
tegrity can explore the 
probable or the possible 
reality of a situation with 
storytelling that asks read- 
ers to imagine the implica- 
tion of a profusion of ob- 
servations. Sharon and 
James Murphy argue that 
this inventiveness is not an 

AJ/Winter 1990 

ethical shortcoming, but a 
"rediscovery of moral 
journalism" in the highest 

This essay has argued 
that truth does not actually 
prevail as the priority of a 
news story, but is incorpo- 
rated as an element — still 
extremely important — of a 
more practical standard of 
good description. A num- 
ber of contingencies can 
affect the literal truthful- 
ness of reporting observa- 
tions — some inherent in 
the human condition and 
perhaps in the paradoxical 
nature of truth itself. But 
some conditions are met 
willingly to achieve objec- 
tives not considered subor- 
dinate to complete truth- 
fulness. Good description 
can be a legitimate stan- 
dard without undue ethical 
problems, in journalism as 
in other fields. Indeed, it is 
difficult to imagine jour- 
nalists conscientiously re- 
porting the social world — 
communicating in it at the 
same time and dealing 
with the ways it describes 
itself — without being more 
modest about their expec- 
tations of mirroring truth. 

There is a lesson here 
about writing history as 
well. But I want to close 
with another kind of his- 
torical application. In terms 
of motivation, it would 
appear that journalism in 
this country has been rich- 
ly influenced by a tradition 
of prescriptive mission. 
The world depicted by 
journalism is not just the 
realm of spectacle where 
"pure" news might be 
equated with description 
by disinterested onlookers. 
News — ^howit is identified. 

gathered and expressed — 
reflects an impulse to 
bring events into a forum 
so that they may be pub- 
licly accounted for. The 
press traditionally has 
sought to make itself — and 
us — ^bear the responsibility 
of being witnesses rather 
than merely onlookers. 

In this activity, journal- 
ists have been intricately 
involved in the social proc- 
ess of turning unweighted, 
empirical conditions into 
"facts" of injustice, crises 
of power, and problems of 
authority. This engage- 
ment accounts for much of 
the self-righteous zeal of 
journalism, as Thomas 
Leonard suggests in The 
Power of the Press (1986), 
and explains why truth as 
an ideal evokes both rever- 
ence and misunderstand- 
ing. Journalism's pro- 
fessed commitment to 
"disinterested realism," in 
Lippmann's characteriza- 
tion, is sincere, but also 
only tactical. It reflects one 
view of the culture's con- 
temporary sense of what 
kind of convincing evi- 
dence is required of the 
press for a good descrip- 
tion of things, for a good 
argument on which to take 
a stand and act. 

The prescriptive motiva- 
tion I have described is 
situational. It may well be 
in decline as a contingency 
shaping how "truth" is de- 
scribed by the press, just 
as the nature of credibility 
and critical evidence are 
culturally determined. In- 
stead we may be allowing 
the press to gather us more 
and more as spectators, 
passively curious but eas- 
ily made impatient, rest- 

less to shuffle along. At 
some point not even a 
press deeply self-conscious 
of what truth can mean 
will be able to call us back 
for a more meaningful sec- 
ond look. 

. . . Douglas Birkhead 
University of Utah 


I SPENT THE 1988-89 aca- 
demic year on sabbatical 
as a foreign expert in the 
Chinese Department of 
Liaoning University, Shen- 
yang, People's Republic of 
China. In addition to 
teaching classes in theories 
of Western journalism and 
Western literature, I was 
expected to serve as a con- 
sultant to faculty and stu- 
dents, an editor for faculty 
publications in translation, 
and a representative (read 
showpiece) of the depart- 
ment at formal functions, 
and to do research on 
some aspect of the media 
in China. 

I experienced many 
interesting situations in 
teaching, consulting, edit- 
ing, and being a show- 
piece, but those are other 
stories. The ones I'd like to 
share here are those en- 
countered in conducting 
my research on how the 
United States is portrayed 
in Chinese newspapers. 

Now, to fully appreciate 
the situation, you have to 
remember all the times 
you have, in the course of 

Research Notes 

conducting research, com- 
plained about your Ubrary. 
If you are lucky (or tal- 
ented) enough to work at 
one of those citadels of 
higher education that put 
their libraries so high on 
their list of priorities that 
you never have a com- 
plaint, then some, but not 
all, of the effect of what 
follows will be lost on you. 

I love my university, and 
would not consider leav- 
ing it, but frankly, it's not 
one of those aforemen- 
tioned citadels, and our li- 
brary leaves something to 
be desired. In fact (and I 
admit it freely) there have 
been times when even I 
(epitome of patience that 
I am) have complained 
that some desperate need 
is unmet. Never again. 

You see, in the United 
States, librarians are 
taught that their main ob- 
jective is to help people 
find information. Not all of 
them do that as well as we 
might like, but at least 
they are operating from 
that basic mindset. Not so 
in China. 

In China, librarians — 
many of whom were pro- 
moted to their positions 
directly from peasanthood 
during the Cultural Revo- 
lution (do not pass school; 
do not study librarian- 
ship) — have been told by 
those who placed them in 
their positions (positions 
eminently more desirable 
than peasanthood, inci- 
dentally) that their pri- 
mary objective is to protect 
the holdings of the library. 

You cannot really blame 
the Chinese for this atti- 
tude. They have very little 
foreign exchange with 

which to purchase new 
materials, and they have 
had little more than a dec- 
ade to restock hundreds of 
thousands of books that 
were destroyed during the 
Cultural Revolution. Moti- 
vation aside, however, the 
result makes it very diffi- 
cult to carry on research. 

Think about it — if you 
were charged with protect- 
ing books, what would be 
the single best way for you 
to do that. Of course — you 
wouldn't lend them out. If 
it only took you a few sec- 
onds to figure that out, 
you can bet Chinese li- 
brarians have, as well. So, 
what has become an ex- 
pectation for Chinese 
scholars, was a complete 
surprise to me when I be- 
gan my research. 

Not for long, however; 
I'm a smart lad, and all it 
took was the following 
scenario (heightened for 
effect, but essentially the 
same) for me to under- 
stand. The names have 
been changed to protect all 

Me: I'd like to borrow the 
book How the United States 
Is Portrayed in the 
Newspapers of the People's 
Republic of China. 

Yu: I'm sorry, we don't 
have that book. 

Me: But I can see it on 
the shelf behind you. 

Yu: (turns; looks; turns 
back) No, I'm sorry, that's 
not it. 

Me: But I can see the title 
on it. 

Yu: (no turn this time) No, 
I'm sorry, that's not it. We 
don't have that book. 

Having learned my lesson 
(smart lad, remember), I 
made alternative arrange- 

ments when it came time 
to gather data for a content 
analysis of China Daily. 
The Foreign Languages 
Department had an Eng- 
lish reading room with 
back copies of China Daily, 
so I got permission to use 
their copies for my re- 
search. I was analyzing 
every eighth issue from 
1988, so anytime I had a 
couple of hours free, I 
went there and collected 
data from more issues. 

All went well for a couple 
of months. Then one day, 
finding I had some free 
time, I went to the reading 
room, spoke to the woman 
responsible for their mate- 
rial, and walked straight to 
the place where the 1988 
issues of China Daily were 
stored. They were gone. 

Me: (with a note of ur- 
gency) The China Dailys 
for 1988 are missing! 

Wu: (infuriatingly calm) 

Me: (with greater urgency) 
Where are they? 

Wu: (calmer; if possible) 
We sold them. 

Me: (use your imagina- 
tion) Sold them?! 

Wu: (calm) Yes. The sec- 
retary to the president of 
the university needed 
them for insulation in the 
ceiling of his home. 

Me: (disbelief) But you 
knew I needed them for 
the research I was doing! 

Wu: (calm) Yes. 

Me: (here I take some 
credit for [relatively] 
graceful acceptance of 
overwhelming cultural 
odds) Oh . . .well . . . thank 

My restraint was re- 
warded and catastrophe 
averted when I found the 

AJ/Winter 1990 

issues I needed in another 

Because I don't read Chi- 
nese, and four of the pa- 
pers I was studying were 
in that language, two of 
my Chinese colleagues 
gathered the necessary 
data from those papers. 
They decided to try the li- 
brary first, and we were 
pleasantly surprised when 
they were allowed access 
to the necessary issues. 

One day one of my re- 
search assistants came to 
my office with some good 
and some bad news. The 
good news was that he 
had finished gathering 
data from his two papers 
for the first half of 1988. 
The bad news was that the 
librarians had taken those 
papers for the last half of 
the year off the "open" 
shelves and would not al- 
low him access to them. I 
asked what we could do 
about it, and he said that 
if I came with him, and 
presented my official card 
to the librarian, she might 

It was during the next 
hour that I learned that 
"no" in China (given the 
right conditions) doesn't 
exactly mean "no." It went 
like this: We found the 
proper librarian (not an 
easy task, given the fact 
that there are hundreds, 
each with immutable 
power over his or her own 
minute area of responsibil- 
ity), and presented her 
with my "official" card — 
my business card, in Eng- 
lish on one side, and Chi- 
nese on the other. She 
scrutinized it, and my as- 
sistant informed her that 
1)1 was a very important 

"vice president of journal- 
ism" from the United 
States, 2) I was working 
with the "high-level ad- 
ministration" of her uni- 
versity on a joint research 
project, and 3) the papers 
in question (which we 
could literally see through 
the door on a shelf in the 
room behind her) were vi- 
tal to the success of the 
project. She said "no." 

My assistant spent the 
next ten minutes making 
small talk about her chil- 
dren, and the "no" became 
"maybe." After ten min- 
utes of talk about my chil- 
dren (I knew despite my 
lack of fluency, because at 
one point he called on me 
to exhibit their pictures 
[she was appropriately im- 
pressed]), the "maybe" be- 
came "probably." After ten 
more minutes of talk (my 
assistant never admitted it, 
but I think it was about his 
soon-to-be family), the 
"probably" became "yes." 
The librarian brought the 
papers out, and the "top- 
level, joint research project" 

I came to understand this 
strange, time-consuming 
process, but I never really 
got the hang of it: one 
more piece of evidence 
that I really am a child of 
Western parents, and not 
adopted from the Orient. 

All went well for two 
days; then my other assis- 
tant came to my office to 
tell me that he had some 
good news and some bad 
news. Same story; same li- 
brarian; other two papers. 
Astonishingly, ransoming 
these papers required the 
same process. She looked 
at my "official" card as 

though it were the first 
time she had seen such a 
thing. This time the "no"/ 
"yes" mutation didn't take 
quite as long. 

Given the problems so 
far recounted, it seems al- 
most petty to mention that 
some of the things we 
count on in doing research 
"back home" aren't as 
readily available in China 
— like electricity, for ex- 
ample. Rather than con- 
duct statistical analysis 
when it fit most conven- 
iently into my schedule, 
I got used to the idea that I 
dropped other work and 
did it when I had electric- 
ity to run my computer. 
Because the electricity 
(when it came at all) came 
in "chunks," with large 
surges and slumps, I had 
to take with me two ex- 
pensive and very heavy 
transformers to ensure that 
my computer would not 
be fried, and that I would 
not lose data in the middle 
of an operation. 

Another taken-for- 
granted facility that I 
quickly learned to do 
without was photocopy- 
ing. There were very few 
copiers available on cam- 
pus, and time on those had 
to be reserved far in ad- 
vance. What the Chinese 
often did instead was silk 
screen. I saw a worker one 
day who was in the proc- 
ess of making 150 copies of 
a twenty-five-page docu- 
ment; he was screening 
them one page at a time — 
put in a blank sheet of pa- 
per, close the frame, run 
the roller back and forth to 
coat it with ink, roll it on 
the screen to squeeze ink 
through onto the paper. 

Research Notes 

open the frame, take out 
the paper — over, and over, 
and over. Think about that 
the next time you have 
trouble getting the expo- 
sure just right on the pho- 
tocopy machine. 

At any rate, we are an 
adaptable species. It was 
my intent, after statisti- 
cally treating my data and 
composing a list of ques- 
tions based on the find- 
ings, to put those ques- 
tions to the editors of the 
papers studied. I had 
made appointments with 
them for the first week in 
June, but they were unable 
to keep those appoint- 
ments. By that time, be- 
cause of their support of 
the "democracy move- 
ment," they were either 
dead, imprisoned, or fired. 

Moral: Most of our re- 
search problems, taken in 
perspective, probably 
aren't as critical as we 
might at first think. 

. . . Roy E. Blackwood 
Bemidji State University 


cus called cold fusion 
started in the spring of 
1989, 1 was teaching a 
course on how to study 
"popular science." Once a 
science journalist, I am 
now a historian of Ameri- 
can science, with a particu- 
lar interest in the public 
understanding of science. 
Thus it was natural that I 
began to collect cold fu- 
sion clips, call my science 

journalist friends, and col- 
lect information to chal- 
lenge my students on how 
they might study the cold 
fusion debate. 

But the mass media per- 
spective on cold fusion 
was not the only one. Two 
sociologist colleagues of 
mine, Thomas F. Gieryn 
(Indiana University) and 
William Dougan (UCLA) 
were downloading elec- 
tronic bulletin board mes- 
sages about cold fusion 
from a nationwide com- 
puter network. From their 
viewpoint, cold fusion was 
a wonderful case study 
in how scientists commu- 
nicate among themselves 
(as opposed to "with the 

We soon realized that 
our combined resources 
might be unique. The Na- 
tional Science Foundation 
agreed, and early in the 
summer provided us with 
a small grant ($7,500 direct 
costs) to create a Cold Fu- 
sion Archive. In this ar- 
ticle, I will describe the ar- 
chive and suggest some is- 
sues that it raises for jour- 
nalism and communica- 
tion historians. 

The Cornell Cold Fusion 
Archive consists of mate- 
rial that we have collected 
from the published litera- 
ture, in telephone and per- 
sonal interviews, and in 
trips to various laborato- 
ries, newspapers, and 
other media outlets. In ad- 
dition, various participants 
in cold fusion, including 
scientists, administrators, 
public information people, 
journalists, and others, 
have sent us material from 
their own files. 

We think about the mate- 

rial as falling into four 
broad categories (although 
the actual "series" that we 
will use in the final archive 
will vary slightly). The 
categories, more fully de- 
scribed in Table 1, are as 
follows: published mate- 
rial, electronic communi- 
cation, "manuscript" ma- 
terial, and interviews. This 
range of material clearly 
poses problems in terms of 
how to arrange it, how to 
create finding aids, and ul- 
timately how to use it. 

As historians, we are 
trained to take records as 
we find them. If our sub- 
ject filed paper chronologi- 
cally, so be it. If he or she 
kept a scrapbook, we glean 
what we can from it. If a 
nonindexed newspaper's 
coverage interests us, we 
scan thousands of pages of 
fading print on yellowing 
paper to find our data. In- 
deed, a fundamental archi- 
val tenet is to leave an ar- 
chive as its creator organ- 
ized it. (For an introduc- 
tion to issues and tech- 
niques in archiving, see 
the various manuals and 
publications distributed 
by the Society of Ameri- 
can Archivists. One publi- 
cation particularly useful 
for this project has been 
Joan K. Haas et al.. Ap- 
praising the Records of Mod- 
em Science And Technology: 
A Guide [1985].) 

But in the case of cold fu- 
sion, we are actively creat- 
ing the archive; it would 
not exist without our inter- 
vention. What, then, is its 
proper arrangement? 

For example: One key 
form of scientific commu- 
nication is the preprint — a 
scientific paper that is cir- 


AJ /Winter 1990 

Table 1 
Materials in Cornell's Cold Fusion Archive 



"Published" material' 

A. Mass media (print, radio, television) 

B. Traditional scientific publications 

(abstracts, preprints, journal articles) 
Electronic communication 

A. USENET bulletin boards^ 

B. Electronic maiP 

C. Traditional journalism* 
"Manuscript" material 

A. Letters 

B. Laboratory notebooks^ 

C. Seminar notes' 

D. Overheads^ 

E. Audio /video of seminars, hearings, 
and press conferences* 

F. Material culture' 

A. Researchers 

B. Research administrators 

C. Journalists /Public Information Officers 

' We are defining "published" in modem terms, in the sense 
that radio and television count. We are being a bit old-fash- 
ioned, in that electronic (computer) publication does not count. 
Items in this category are in their "traditional" forms: printed 
on paper, or recorded on audio or video tape. 
^ This was (and, as I write, still is) the main site of electronic 
scientific fonims on cold fusion. 

' Unlike electronic bulletin boards, which are intended for 
public reading, electronic mail is analogous to traditional cor- 
respondence between individuals. 

* In a few cases, we have electronic copies of mass media ar- 
ticles, which various people downloaded from electronic da- 

' This is the true "raw" data of science; though much of it is 
vmintelligible to anyone outside the particular lab where it was 
created, it provides the original historical material against 
which all else in science must be tested. 

* This includes both notes that people took at seminars and 
notes that people prepared for seminar talks they were giving. 
' Many scientists don't prepare texts for their talks, but do pre- 
pare copies of overhead transparencies, which they pass out 
for seminar attendees to write notes on. 

' Unlike the tapes of radio and television shows, this material 
is "raw" data for the journalism historian — unprocessed ma- 
terial that was later used by journalists. 
' Included in this category are t-shirts, hats, and do-it-yourself 

'° These are taped interviews, ranging from fifteen minutes to 
three hours, conducted by me and my colleagues using sets of 
questions that delve deeply into issues of science communica- 
tion. At this time, we do not have plans (or, more important, 
funds) for creating transcripts of these interviews. 

culated in mimeo or pho- 
tocopy form to hundreds 
of scientists well before the 
actual publication comes 
out. Should we file a pre- 
print under the name of 
the author, documenting 
his or her ideas? Or should 
we file it with other pieces 
of paper from our particu- 
lar sources, so that histori- 
ans can tell to what ideas 
those other scientists had 
access (thus documenting 
the reception of informa- 
tion, one of the more diffi- 
cult stages of communica- 
tion to study historically)? 

Or: Should we file our 
mass media clips chrono- 
logically? By publication? 
What about the clipping 
collections put together by 
organizations such as the 
American Chemical Soci- 
ety and Texas A&M Uni- 
versity? These collections 
sometimes overlap the 
clips we've gotten from 
other sources. Should we 
try to avoid duplication or 
should we accept it, again 
on the principle of keeping 
individual parts of our col- 
lection as near as possible 
to the state in which they 
originally existed? 

And, most troubling: 
What to do v^th our 12-15 
megabytes of electronic 
communication, currently 
held in a box of floppy 
disks. Archivists tell horror 
stories of computerized 
records rendered unusable 
because the technology for 
reading them has become 
obsolete and unavailable. 
But to print out the text 
would create thousands of 
pages of complex data, at 
the same time losing the 
ability to manipulate the 
records electronically. The 

Research Notes 


records are of a new kind 
in the history of communi- 
cation. What are we to do 
with them? 

Some of these questions 
we have answered, with 
the advice of several sea- 
soned archivists. For ex- 
ample, we will organize 
the clips chronologically. 
Using a straightforward 
database management 
program, however, we 
will also be able to include 
in the finding aid indexes 
organized by publication, 
author, and even broad 
topic areas. 

Some types of publica- 
tions will get their own 
files. Because of the impor- 
tance of scientific papers 
and preprints, we will pull 
them from the chronologi- 
cal files and give them 
their own folder. Again, 
we will use database pro- 
grams to create lists show- 
ing users the provenance 
of each document. 

One media type that will 
get its own folder, but no 
associated pointer file, is 
the cartoon (nearly sev- 
enty-five of them now, and 
still climbing). It's just a 
little too far-fetched to 
think that some historian 
is going to want to know 
who among our sources 
saw which cartoon! 

As I write this in mid- 
November 1989, however, 
we still haven't solved the 
electronic communication 

All of these issues of ar- 
chival organization are — 
excuse the expression — 
merely of academic inter- 
est if one does not consider 
the cold fusion saga wor- 
thy of study. As one of my 
sources said to me, "If 

none of this is true, who's 
going to care about the 
history of it?" 

Certainly historians of 
journalism, of communica- 
tion, of science, and of 
popular culture will find 
much to interest them. 
Pulled together in one 
place will be a host of 
interrelated records: ar- 
ticles, interviews with the 
authors of those af*ticles, 
commentary from the sub- 
jects of those articles, plus 
the background material 
on which the articles were 
based. In several cases we 
have videotapes, audio- 
tapes, or transcripts of the 
press conferences from 
which coverage emerged. 

The electronic archive 
will provide opportunities 
for scholars interested in 
this new form of commu- 
nication; since many com- 
puter messages consist of 
transcripts, summaries, or 
critiques of mass media ar- 
ticles, some researchers 
may wish to examine the 
reception of media stories 
and the interaction among 
different media. 

Even the cartoons will 
provide a resource. What 
themes emerge from the 
cartoons about the role of 
science in society? About 
the image of scientists in 
the mass media? About 
competition among scien- 
tists? Are there similarities 
between themes in the car- 
toons and those on the 
other elements of material 
culture in the archives? 

To many scientists — and 
quite a few journalists — 
cold fusion is still very 
much a live issue. Does 
that mean that I'm fooling 
myself — and deceiving 

others — to call the Cold 
Fusion Archive a resource 
for journalism historians? 

I don't think so. If we 
take seriously the idea that 
scientists and journalists 
"construct" reality by their 
choice of topics to research 
and write about, then it's 
crucial for us to document 
that process as it's happen- 
ing, before it gets "re-con- 
structed." Though the re- 
search that one can con- 
duct now from the archive 
may be only a form of ana- 
lytical journalism, future 
historians of science — and 
journalism — will have ac- 
cess to the kinds of ephem- 
eral materials most histori- 
ans can only dream about. 

I invite your inquiries. 
(The National Science 
Foundation has supported 
our work under grant SES 
8914940. Many of the ideas 
in this paper came from 
Thomas F. Gieryn and 
William Dougan. Among 
the archivists from whom 
we have received valuable 
advice are: Elaine Engst 
[Cornell University], Joan 
Warnow [American Insti- 
tute of Physics], James J. 
Bohning [Beckman Center 
for History of Chemistry], 
Colleen Mason [Smith- 
sonian Institution], Henry 
Lowood [Stanford Univer- 
sity], and William Aspray 
[IEEE Center for History of 
Electrical Engineering]. 
Wolfgang Baur is doing a 
yeoman's job physically 
arranging the archive.) 

. . . Bruce V. Lewenstein 
Cornell University 


A Famous Reporter Sees 
Chivalry Die in South Africa 

John C. Bromley 

John C. Bromley 
teaches media law 
and journalism 
history at the Uni- 
versity of Northern 
Colorado. His re- 
search interests 
include the jour- 
nalism of major 
American wnters 
of the period 
1890-1914, and 
the relationships 
between their fic- 
tion and their jour- 

Thomas Beer suggested it would, a "second use" as history.^ 
Often by the degree to which his emotions, powerful and easily 
stirred, were engaged, Davis created memorable portraits of 
people and events. If the major flaw of his writing was his 
persistent manufacture of chivalric romance, its great strength 
was his mastery of detail. Both are present in abundance in his 
accounts of the Boer War. 

Davis covered the war only from February 1900 to the follow- 
ing June, the period in which the brief Boer ascendency was 
ended. What Davis knew of the war's causes he had learned 
from the conversations and very modest research that had gone 
into his brief, pro-British account of the Jameson Raid, the 
booklet he called Dr. Jameson's Raiders vs. the fohannesberg Reform- 
ers } Once in South Airica for the Boer Vvl ai ,\vo-weveT ,Dav\s was 
repelled by the British army and its leaders, and he came extrava- 
gantly to admire the same Boers whom he had denounced as 
backward and tyrannical in 1897. He became little more than a 
Boer propagandist, his sympathy roused by the specter of Boer 
defeat. By the end of his stay his reporting had become secon- 
dary to the fury with which he argued the Boer case against the 

The origins of his Boer War partisanship, as well as his 
colorful recording of the scenes through which he passed, are the 
subjects of this study. 

The first part of Davis's South African adventure had been a 
completely conventional assignment to the headquarters and 
staff of General Sir Redvers Buller, recently superseded but not 
yet relieved by Lord Roberts and his Chief of Staff Lord 

1. Thomas Beer, "Richard Harding Davis," Liberty 1 (1924): 21. 

2. Richard Harding Davis, Dr. Jameson's Raiders vs. the Johannesburg Reformers 
(New York: Russell, 1897). 

Kitchener.^ Duller was assigned to lift the Boer siege of Ladys- 
mith. Davis joined Bailer's column after a string of defeats, but 
he was there to see Buller rescue Sir George White's besieged, 
weakened garrison in Ladysmith on 27 February 1900.* 

Davis had wanted to be with Roberts and Kitchener rather 
than with Buller, he wrote his mother on 18 February, but this 
would have involved the displacement of the Daily Mail's An- 
glophile Julian Ralph.^ So he was stuck with Redvers Buller, and 
Buller with him. At first all went pleasantly: "Buller . . . seemed 
very pleased to have me. . . . the Censor seems to think I am a sort 
of Matthew Arnold and should be wrapped in cotton."* But, he 
wrote home moodily, "this is not my war."^ Davis may have 
contributed to Buller's irritation by returning salutes meant for 
the general as he rode with Buller and his staff.* 

Davis appreciated the great difficulty of relieving Ladysmith. 
Surveying the rugged area Buller's army had to cross in order 
to reach the garrison, Davis wrote that the hills were "an 
eruption . . . linked . . . together without order or sequence. ... In 
a ride of half a mile, every hill completely loses its original aspect 
and character. They hide each other, or disguise each other."' Of 
the Tugela River, the other natural barrier shielding Ladysmith, 
Davis wrote that it "darts through [the hills] as though striving 
to escape, it doubles on its tracks. . . . when one says he has 
crossed the Tugela, he means he has crossed it once at a drift, 
once at the wrecked railroad bridge and once over a pontoon."^° 

Above this chaos in nature perched the troubled Buller him- 
self. There was about Buller no romance, no chivalry, none of the 
heady inspiration Theodore Roosevelt had offered in Cuba." 
"Up on a high hill, sealed among the rocks, is Buller and his 
staff Commanding generals to-day, under the new condi- 
tions this war has developed, do not charge up hills waving 
flashing swords."^^ In South Africa, Davis noted, the "com- 
manding general watches the development of his attack, and 
directs it by heliograph and ragged bits of bunting."^^ 

3. Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War (New York: Random House, 1979), 251. 

4. Fairfax Downey, Richard Harding Davis: His Day (New York: Scribner's, 1933) 
179; Pakenham, 379-80. 

5. Davis to his mother, 18 February 1900, Adventures and Letters of Richard 
Harding Davis, ed. Charles Belmont Davis (New York: Scribner's, 1918), 265. 

6. Davis to his mother, 18 February 1900, 266. 

7. Davis to his mother, 18 February 1900, 267. 

8. Downey, 179. 

9. Davis, "With Buller's Colvimn," Scribner's 27 (1900): 671. Davis's accounts of 
the Boer War were published first in the London Daily MaH and the New York Her- 
ald. At the same time Davis was preparing a series of Scribner's articles, also 
published in 1900; the Scribner's articles then became the basis for With Both 
Armies (New York: Scribner's, 1 900). Reference is made here to the earlier source 

10. Davis, "With Bviller's Column," 671. 

11. Davis and Theodore Roosevelt did not, however, like each other before the 
war began. See Downey, 150. 

12. Davis, "With Buller's Column," 673. 

13. Davis, "With Buller's Column," 673. 

"They had been 
forced in on them- 
selves, these Brit> 
ish officers [at 

Ladysmith] The 

defenders had not 
only to keep con- 
trol of the town. 
They had to fight a 
war of attrition, 
supported by little 
polo, cricket or 
against their own 

- Thomas 


The Boer War. 


AJ/Winter 1990 

"The garrison 
were disconcerted 
to find that the 
Boers refused to 
conform In their 
gunnery, as in so 
nfiany military mat- 
ters, to any recog- 
nizable rules." 
- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

Davis had seen Buller defeated at Railway Hill, just four days 
before, on 23 February 1900. Davis described that battle, pro- 
phetic of so many in the 1914 war, as "one of those frontal attacks 
which, in this war, against the new weapons, has added so much 
to the lists of killed and wounded and to the prestige of the men, 
while it has, in an inverse ratio, hurt the prestige of the men by 
whom the attack was ordered."^* BuUer's attack, made at night, 
had cost the British 600 men. 

Davis watched the successful British attack four days later 
develop on the distant hills, and listened to the weight of the 
superior British artillery coming to bear: "It seemed inconceiv- 
able that anything human could live under such a bombard- 
ment."^^ He noted "the mechanical, regular rattle of the quick- 
firing Maxims, which sounded like the clicking of many mow- 
ing-machines on a hot summer's day."^* At the last moment of 
the attack, as the Boer trenches on top of the last hill were taken, 
came the incident he later described to the Herald as causing his 
most acute censorship difficulties: "The last of the three hills was 
mounted by the West Yorks, who were mistaken by their own 
artillery for Boers, and fired upon both by Boers and by their own 
shrapnel and lyddite."^^ Whatever his problems with BuUer's 
censors, Davis's story of the British firing on their own men got 
out, and appeared on 6 March 1900 in the New York Herald. 

The difficulties of the force relieving Ladysmith were, as 
Davis recognized, largely geographical. Referring to the natural 
defensive barrier of hills that kept Buller out of the city, Davis 
argued that Ladysmith "should have been sacrificed to the 
enemy" in order to release its 13,000 troops as well as the 25,000- 
man relief force for service elsewhere.^* Here Davis's strategy 
unconsciously echoed BuUer's, who had suggested to London in 
December 1899 that, because his force was not strong enough to 
relieve White, the British "ought to let Ladysmith go."'' Davis, 
however, incorrectly assumed that White had been ordered to 
hold Ladysmith against his will.^° Perhaps Davis did not ask 
Buller about the causes for the Ladysmith siege, or the general 
did not permit the question, but in any case Davis never knew 
that Buller had opposed White's original retreat into Ladysmith, 
or that the siege, and the events leading to it, reflected so poorly 
on his hero White. 

When Buller finally relieved Ladysmith, Davis was much 
moved by the conditions he found there. The Boers had permit- 

14. Davis, "V^ith Buller's Column," 674. 

15. Davis, "With Buller's Column," 674. 

16. Davis, "With Buller's Column," 674. 

17. Davis, "With Buller's Column," 676. 

18. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," Scribner's 28 (1900): 39. 

19. Pakenham, 249. Buller's suggestion was explored after his Spion Kip defeat 
and then dropped by the War Office; there were too many men in the town. See 
Pakenham, 321. 

20. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 40. 



ted a neutral camp, a settlement area for women, children, the 
sick, the wounded, and non-combatants, outside of Ladysmith. 
The Boer artillery, particularly "Long Tom," the heavy gun that 
terrorized the inhabitants of Ladysmith, made smoke from the 
muzzle as each shell was fired, so that "sentinels were constantly 
on watch to look for the smoke and to give the alarm." But the 
worst hardship of confinement, Davis found, was not Long Tom 
but the "lack of food and exercise, bad water and life under- 
ground [that] soon bred fever" among the inhabitants of Ladys- 
mith. Victims of fever, Davis wrote, "outnumbered those of 
Long Tom nearly ten to one."^^ 

In discussing the hardships of the siege and the difficulties of 
relieving it, Davis found the central lesson of the fight for 
Ladysmith to be its demonstration of the new prinnacy of de- 
fense. "Bloch, the authority on modern war, believes that with 
the new weapons [heavy guns, magazine rifles] a force en- 
trenched on the defensive is to the attacking force as eight men 
to one."^ As Davis had reported, Buller had had to learn to attack 
on the flank, rather than straight ahead, to pry the Boers out of 
the path to Ladysmith. And to Davis the extended sufferings of 
the Ladysmith garrison were, like the fact of the siege itself, all 
Buller's fault. Buller, Davis wrote, has been "too slow."^^ The 
general reinforced the positions he did manage to take in "so 
leisurely [a manner] that he allowed the Boers ample time to 
fortify and enfilade him from another [position]."^* After BuUer's 
defeat at the Battle of Colenso — a battle Davis did not see — on 
6 January 1900, Davis felt Buller had become "sensitive of losing 
more men, and in order to save life [he] attacked with forces so 
insufficient in numbers that many men were sacrificed for that 
reason."^ As evidence Davis cited the battles at Railway and 
Hart's Hills on 23 February 1900 and the victory at Pieters Hill 
four days later: 

BuUer's continuous battles demonstrated one thing 
very clearly, which is that a fortified position may be 
shelled for half a day with the best gunners without 
the enemy being driven so far from it that he cannot 
return to meet a charge of infantry. The time which 
elapses between . . . when the artillery ceases firing 
in order to allow the infantry to mount the crest was 
always sufficiently long to allow the Boers to reoc- 
cupy the trenches.^^ 
This was to be one of the central lessons of the 1914 war before 
the advent of the tank. Buller learned it in a matter of weeks, and 

21. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 41-2. 

22. Davis, 'The Relief of Ladysmith," 41. 

23. Davis, 'The Relief of Ladysmith," 47. 

24. Davis, 'The Relief of Ladysmith," 47. 

25. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 47-48. 

26. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 48. 

"Even on Christ- 
mas Day, Long 
Tom gave a dis- 
play of mixed feel- 
ings. He fired nu- 
merous shells, 
one of which, 
when dug up un- 
exploded, proved 
to contain a 
Christmas pud- 
ding wrapped in a 
Union Jack, and a 
note: The compli- 
ments of the sea- 

- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

16 AJ/Winter 1990 

Davis understood it. Buller's eclipse later perhaps prevented his 
hard-won lesson from achieving the impact on military thought 
that it deserved. 

Davis thought that Buller's entrance into Ladysmith on 
4 March 1900 was "one of the most splendidly moving spectacles 
I have ever witnessed." The scene inspired some of Davis's finest 
descriptive writing of the Boer War: 

Lancers, foot soldiers, gunners, irregular horse, coloni- 
als, blue jackets and Indians, blistered, tanned, caked 
with mud, covered with blood stains and ragged as 
sweeps passed for three full hours before General 
White . . . the emaciated, yellow-faced garrison, whose 
loose khaki told of weeks of starvation, cheered them 
in return . . . General Buller's arrival was hailed tu- 
The spectacle continued to enchant him several days later: 
Some of the "Tommies," in spite of their fatigue, danced 
past General White . . . it was a wonderful scene . . . the 
relieving column, covered with rags and mud, robust 
and tanned like coast guards, while the men in the lines 
through which they passed were yellow with fever 
and cadaverous, some of them scarcely able to stand.^* 
So great was his own emotional reaction that, he wrote his 
mother, "Winston Churchill and I stood in front of General 
White and cried for an hour."^' The sufferings apparent among 
the besieged at Ladysmith also continued to exercise Davis's 
great powers of colorful description, as when he met a 
boy officer in stainless khaki and beautifully turned 
out, polished and burnished and varnished, but 
with . . . yellow skin and sharpened cheek bones and 
protruding teeth, a skeleton on horse-back, 
[who] rode slowly toward us down the hill.^° 
Whatever the theatrical glories of the relief of Ladysmith 
Davis was bored, angry at the British, frustrated. "This is a 
beastly dull war," Davis wrote his mother just after Ladysmith 
was relieved: 

The whole thing is so "class" and full of "form" and 
tradition. . . . [The British army] is the most wonderful 
organization I ever imagined but it is like a beautiful lo- 
comotive without an engineer. The Boers outplay them 
in intelligence every day. . . . You would not believe 
the mistakes they make, the awful way in which they 
sacrifice the lives of officers and men. ... I hate all the 

27. Richard Harding Davis, "Ladysmith's Splendid Welcome to Buller/' New 
York Herald, 6 March 1900. 

28. Richard Harding Davis, "Hearty Cheers for Deliverers," New York Herald, 
8 March 1900. 

29. Davis to his mother, 3 March 1900, Adventures and Letters, 272. 

30. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 53. 



people about me and this dirty town and I wish I was 
In this mood he had visited Lady Randolph Churchill, with 
whom he had discussed an article on the hardships of war 
correspondents: "As it is now the Government forces him [the 
correspondent] upon the Generals against their will and so they 
get back by taking it out on him."^^ Even earlier he had written 
home that "war as these [British] people do it bores one to 
destruction. They are terrible dull souls. They cannot give an 
order intelligently. The real test of a soldier is the way he gives 
an order ."^^ This was, indeed, not his war. 

So, wretched with the British, Davis decided to go to the 
Boers. His way to the Boers was pased by the British High 
Commissioner for South Africa, the Governor of the Cape Col- 
ony Sir Alfred Milner.^^ Davis and his wife, who travelled with 
him, were greeted, he wrote his mother, with "simple earnest 
courtesy," like that in the welcoming remarks of the first of the 
Boer commanders he met. Christian, DeWet.^^ Under fire for the 
first time, Cecil Davis earned her husband's ungrudging admi- 
ration: "she refused to be impressed with the danger ."^^ 

Once with the Boers, Davis became virtually a pro-Boer 
propagandist. He had earlier, for instance, estimated the British 
preponderance of force as ranging from a ratio of "two to one up 
to four to one."^^ Once among the Boers, he convinced himself 
that the odds against them had somehow lengthened. "I am 
convinced," he argued in Scribner's, "that throughout the war 
one man to ten has been the average proportion of Boer to Briton, 
and that frequently the British have been repulsed [sic] when 
their force outnumbered that of the Boers twenty to one."^^ This 
new arithmetic was not the result of new estimates of actual 
forces counted in new battles, for he had seen none. Rather he 
was gripfjed by a new passion. 

In Pretoria Davis had met the Boer president of the Transvaal, 
Paul Kruger, and Davis's objectivity, never strong, had fallen 
victim to Kruger's powerful personality. Earlier, in Cuba, he had 
fallen in the same way under Theodore Roosevelt's influence. 
"Paul Kruger," Davis wrote, was "possibly . . . the man of the 
greatest interest in the world today, a man [who] will probably 
rank as a statesman with Lincoln, Bismark and Gladstone," yet 

"[The hospitals 
at Ladysmith] 
handled a total of 
10,688 cases— out 
of 13,500 soldiers 
—during the four 
months between 
November and the 
end of February; 
551 people died of 
disease in that pe- 

- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

31. Davis to his mother, 4 March 1900, Adventures and Letters, 273. 

32. Davis to Lady Randolph Churchill, 15 March 1900, Adventures and Letters, 

33. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 40. 

34. Davis, "What 'Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men' Really Means," New York 
Herald, 8 ]uly 1900. 

35. Davis to his mother, 18 May 1900, Adventures and Letters, 286. 

36. Davis to his mother, 18 May 1900, 287. 

37. Davis, "The Relief of Ladysmith," 47. 

38. Davis, 'Tretoria in War Time," Scribner's 28 (1900): 175. 


AJ /Winter 1990 

"At seventy-three 
[Kmger] was a na- 
tional nwnunient 
in his own lifetime, 
a heroic survival 
from the Great 

- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

who lives "as simply as a village lawyer."^' Kruger reminded 
Davis of Grover Cleveland. Both leaders, he noted, had "a 
strangely similar energy in speaking," the same 

impressiveness of their build and size which seems fit- 
ting with a big mind and strong will. . . . resolution, 
enormous will-power, and a supreme courage of con- 
viction are the qualities in both which [after] you have 
left them are still upper-most in your memory .*° 
Kruger was to Davis a patriarch, an Old Testament prophet. To 
the news that gold had been discovered in South Africa years 
before, at a time of strained credit when gold meant solvency, 
Davis has Kruger reply: "'Gold! Do you know what gold is? For 
every ounce of that gold you will pay with a tear of blood. Go to 
your farm and read the Book. It will tell you what gold is.'"*^ 

To Davis Kruger was the central image of the Boer resistance. 
His rich, exotic portrait of Kruger is one he never surpassed: 
His eyes held no expression, but were like those in a 
jade idol. His whole face, chiefly, I think, because of the 
eyes, was like a heavy waxen mask. In speaking, his 
lips moved and most violently, but every other feature 
of his face remained absolutely set. In his ears he wore 
little gold rings, and his eyes, which were red and 
seared with some disease, were protected from the 
light by great gold-rimmed spectacles of dark glass 
with wire screens.*^ 
Davis first saw Kruger when he was speaking to a group of Irish- 
Americans who, hating the British, had come to aid the Boers; 
Kruger "instructed them, much as a father talking to a group of 
school-boys." Kruger's lesson for these volunteers was that "the 
cause for which they had come to fight was one upon which the 
Lord had looked with favor; and . . . even though they died in 
this war they must feel that they were acting as His servants and 
had died in His service."" 

This very Biblical imagery at length became Davis's own. 
Davis increasingly saw the Boer War as a combat between 
gallant Boer knights and the brutal, more modem power of the 
British Empire. It was at this p>oint that he described the British 
Army in the powerful, contemptuous images that came so eas- 
ily to him, as "like the children of Israel in number, like Tam- 
many Hall in organization and discipline."^ "As I see it," he 
wrote at the end of his last installment for Scribner's, "it [the Boer 
War] has been a Holy War, this war of the burgher crusader, and 

39. Davis, "Pretoria in War Time," 1 76. The comparison to other national leaders 
was edited out of his Boer War book. See With Both Armies, 140. 

40. Davis, "Pretoria in War Time," 179. 

41. Davis, "The Boer in the Field," New York Herald, 8 July 1900. 

42. Davis, "Pretoria in War Time," 178. 

43. Davis, 'Tretoria in War Time," 177. 

44. Davis, "The Boer in the Field," New York Herald, 8 July 1900. 



[the Boer's] motives are as fine as any that ever called a 'nrdnute 
man' from his farm or sent a knight of the Cross to die for it in 
Palestine."*^ He had, in the same article, contrasted the regular 
soldier with the Boer irregular, much to the disadvantage of the 

I knew as the train carried us away from the sight of 

them that no soldier in pipe-clay, gauntlets, and gold 

lace would ever again mean to me what these burghers 

meant, these long-bearded, strong-eyed Boers with 

their drooping cavalier hats, their bristling bands of 

cartridges, their upright seat in the saddle and the rifle 

rising above them like the lance of the crusader.*^ 

At first, when with the British, he had seen the Boer only as an 

enemy, and from far away. Close up, the Boers and their cause 

stirred him, calling forth his descriptive powers. 

With Kruger, Davis quickly became little more than an errand 
boy. Under Kniger's influence Davis's modest impartiality was 
sacrificed to his sense of Kruger' s, and the Boer, n\ission. Davis's 
shifting allegiances were apparent, for instance, in his story 
about the British prisoners held in Pretoria. In what his biogra- 
pher Fairfax Downey called "the most unluckly despatch Davis 
ever wrote," Davis found the conduct of English officers held by 
the Boers to be reprehensible, beyond excuse.*^Even their status 
as prisoners angered Davis; when the prisoners were rude to his 
Boer escort, he wrote angrily that he 

had thought the English officer would remain an offi- 
cer under any circumstances. When one has refused to 
fight further with a rifle, it is not becoming to continue 
to fight with the tongue, nor to insult the man from 
whom you have begged for mercy. . . . You cannot ask 
a man to spare your life, which is what surrendering 
really means, and then treat him as you would the 
gutter-snipe who runs to open the door of your han- 
The prisoners had, it appeared, behaved in "a most unsports- 
manlike, ungentlemanly" manner. Kept originally in a former 
schoolhouse, they destroyed the books, "drew offensive carica- 
tures of the Boers over the walls," and were "rude and 'cheeky.'" 
And they did worse; they sinned against chivalry, shouting at 
women and girls as they passed: 

Personally, I cannot see why being a prisoner would 
make me think I might speak to women 1 did not know; 
but some of the English officers apparently thought 
their new condition carried that privilege with it. I do 
not believe that every one of them misbehaved in this 

45. Davis, 'The Last Days of Pretoria," Scribner's 28 (1900): 417. 

46. Davis, 'The Last Days of Pretoria," 417. 

47. Downey, 184. 

48. Davis, "Pretoria in War Time," 181. 

• • • • • 

"The volk must 
trust in them- 
selves, and trust in 
the Lord. That re- 
nfialned Kruger's 
simple text. The 
calamities that had 
befallen them, the 
death of their 
friends, were a 
sign of God's will; 
His people needed 
to be tried and pu- 
rified by suffering." 
- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 


AJ/Winter 1990 

"It was estimated 
that there were 
over 7,000 deaths 
among the 87,365 

Boers No one 

knows how many 
Boers— men, 
women and chil- 
dren—died in the 
camps. Official es- 
timates vary be- 
tween 18,000 and 

- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

fashion, but it was true of so many that their miscon- 
duct brought discredit on all. Some people say that the 
girls walked by for the express purpose of being spo- 
ken to; and a few undoubtedly did, and one of them 
was even arrested, after the escape of a well-known 
war correspondent [Churchill], on suspicion of having 
assisted him. But, on the other hand, any number of 
older women, both Boer and English, have told me that 
they found it quite impossible to pass the school-house 
[the jail building] on account of the insulting remarks 
the officers on the veranda threw to one another con- 
cerning them, or made directly to them. At last the 
officers grew so offensive that a large number of ladies 
signed a petition and sent it to the government com- 
plaining that the presence of the Englishmen in the 
heart of town was a public nuisance.*' 
For this the English officers were taken to the new camp where 
Davis saw them. The prisoner's compound was small, their 
central building "hot by day and cold by night and badly 
ventilated." But the English prisoners deserved their priva- 
tions, Davis felt, for "it is to be considered that, had the officers 
been decently civil to the Boers, which need not have been 
difficult for gentlemen — I have never met an uncivil Boer — they 
might have been treated with even greater leniency ."^° 

As the Boer cause grew in grandeur to Davis, so did the British 
cause decline. Virtually a conduit for Boer views, Davis indi- 
cated to his mother, as he left Africa, that he was glad to be on his 
way home "as I can do just as much for the Boers at home now 
as there [in Africa] where the British censor would have shut me 
off." In the same letter Davis insisted that 

when I consider the magnitude of the misrepresenta- 
tion about the burghers I feel appalled at the idea of 
going up against it. One is really afraid to tell all the 
truth about the Boer because no one will believe 

you personally I know no class of men I admire as 

much [as the Boers] or who to-day preserve the best 
and oldest ideas of charity, fairness and good will to 
He saw the two armies, for the last time before he left South 
Africa, on each side of the Sand River. In a final story for the 
Herald, he summed up what he had seen: 

On the one bank of the Sand [the English-held bank] 
was the professional soldier, who does whatever he is 
ordered to do. His orders this time were to kill a 
sufficiently large number of human beings to cause 
those few who might survive to throw up their hands 

49. Davis, "Pretoria in War Time," 180. 

50. Davis, "Pretoria in War Time," 182. 

51. Davis to his mother, 8 June 1900, Adventures and Letters, 289. 



and surrender their homes, their country and their 
birthright. On the other bank [the Boer-held bank] 
were a thousand self-governing, self-respecting farm- 
ers fighting for the land they have redeemed from the 
lion and the savage, for the tov^ns and cities they have 
reared in a beautiful wilderness." 
The Boer War was, he had come to feel, the result of Great 
Britain's having "made up its mind to rob a free and intelligent 
people of the roof over them and the land beneath them." For this 
ignoble work "Buller was well chosen . . . the dull butcher, the 
fat witted Falstaff."^^ Lord Roberts, whom Davis admired, was 
sent to finish BuUer's work, but the evil circumstances of the war 
perverted even Roberts into "a janissary of the Jews. . . the po- 
liceman for Cecil Rhodes," his new infamy obscuring his bril- 
liant early record .^^ 

Richard Harding Davis was by no means a tolerant man. 
Students of his life and writing as acute as Scott Osborn and 
Robert Phillips have noted that it is the "biased and tempera- 
mental qualities of Davis's work [that] have helped to obscure 
his genius."^^ While the verdict of his colleague Fredrick Palmer 
ignores changes of real substance in Davis's coverage of World 
War I before his death in 1916, Palmer summed up the idealism 
of Richard Harding Davis with real perception, commending his 
"distinctive high standards": "his chivalry embraced an ideal 
which had much influence on the youth of his time. Filth of all 
kinds was abhorrent to him."^^ 

Richard Harding Davis was a moralist, and his distinctions 
about South Africa were simple principles, felt rather than 
reasoned. The Boers seemed to him like the American revolu- 
tionaries of 1776, and his affection for Kruger was no less real 
than his anti-Semitism or his distaste for Buller and his general- 
ship. He was offended by the British censorship, and he later 
explained his pro-Boer bias as a reaction to it. "[The British] cut 
my dispatches and twisted facts so much that I decided to leave," 
he told reporters on his return. "When there was a Boer victory 
I was not allowed to send the story as it was. When the British 
became confused and fired on their men I was told I must not 
send that."57 

He had become venomous about Great Britain and her mili- 
tary leaders, though he insisted that his intention was only to 
reform: "A friend of England, which I certainly claim to be," he 
wrote, "would beg her to call upon her sense of humor to get 

52. "The Boer and the Briton," New York Herald, 22 July 1900. 

53. Richard Harding Davis, "Kruger's Last Day in Pretoria," New York Herald, 
5 August 1900. This passage was deleted from With Both Armies. 

54. Davis, "Kruger's Last Day in Pretoria," New York Herald, 5 August 1900. 

55. Scott Osbom and Robert Phillips, Jr., Richard Harding Dams (Boston: Twayne, 
1978), 88. 

56. Palmer, Scribner's 80 (1926): 477. 

57. Davis, "Boers Not Ready To Give Up Fight," New YorkHerald, 5 August 1900. 

• • • • • 
"The War Office 
reckoned that 
400,346 horses, 
mules and don- 
keys were 'ex- 
pended' in the 

- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

"Twenty-two thou- 
sand [British and 
colonial soldiers] 
found a grave In 
South Africa: 
5,774 were killed 
by enemy action 
(or accident) and 
shovelled into the 
veld, often where 
they fell; 16,168 
died of wounds or 
were killed by the 
action of disease 
(or the inaction of 
army doctors)." 
- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 


AJ/Winter 1990 

• • • • • 

"In money and 
lives, no British 
war since 1815 
had been so prodi- 
gal. That tea-time' 
war ... had cost 
the BrKlsh tax 
payer more than 
£200 million." 

- Pakenham, 
The Boer War. 

back her sense of proportion."^* But he had lost his reportorial 
balance badly, finishing the war with a defiant, but demonstra- 
bly untrue, dockside statement to fellow reporters in New York 
that "the Boers have an almost unconquerable army."^' He had, 
while in South Africa, permitted his reportorial instincts to be 
overwhelmed by what increasingly he regarded as an urgent 
need to promote the Boer cause. Before the relief of Ladysmith, 
while still with the British, he had written some of the best war 
reports of his career: his rendering of the rough country around 
Ladysmith reflects, as do his descriptions of the relief of the siege 
and the celebrations of its end, the range of reportorial abilities 
for which his contemporaries admired him. But after Ladysmith 
his skill deserted him, and even the usual excellence of his 
technical writing was lost in a series of waspish essays on the 
faults of the British character. 

Davis was no intellectual, and he lacked the slightest objectiv- 
ity or the faintest interest in being objective once his emotions 
were aroused. His analysis of the Boer War after the relief of 
Ladysmith was no more than an elaborate record of his preju- 
dices, all strong and many foolish. It is, finally, on the strengths 
of his reporting before Ladysmith, the brilliance of his descrip- 
tions, that Davis's Boer War coverage must be estimated. 

58. Davis, "The Boer and the Briton," New York Herald, 22 July 1900. 

59. Davis, "Boers Not Ready To Give Up Fight," New YorkHerald, 5 August 1900. 




The Careers of Women Journalists 

Remain an Important Topic 

for Historical Research 

Catherine C. Mitchell 

SCHOLARS WANTING TO WRITE biographies of women 
journalists face a dilemma. Biography has become a debatable 
technique just as a new subdiscipline of journalism history, that 
of women working in journalism, has emerged. Can biography 
be a useful approach? Just how extensive is the use of biography 
in histories of women in journalism? Some of the answers to 
these questions can be found in the work of women's historian 
Gerda Lemer.^ This article describes Lerner's four stages in the 
conceptualization of women's history and uses those stages to 
categorize the historical research on women working in journal- 
ism. Then it argues that more of a particular kind of biography, 
what Lerner would call contribution history, is needed in the 
history of women working in journalism. 

Startt and Sloan have attributed the "virtual disappearance of 
the 'great man' explanation of communication history" to the in- 
fluence of the "Cultural School" of journalism history.^ Accord- 
ing to Sloan, the Cultural School originated in the early 1900s but 
took on a new influence with Carey's 1974 call for a cultural 
perspective.^ The editors of Journalism History have called 
Carey's piece a "key source" for any discussion of "methods and 
interpretive approaches" to journalism history.* According to 

1. Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past (New York: Oxford University Press, 

2. James D. Startt and William David Sloan, Historical Methods in Mass Commu- 
nication (Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989), 36. 

3. See Startt and Sloan, 35-39; William David Sloan, 'Introduction," in American 
Journalism History: An Annotated Bibliography (New York: Greenwood Press, 
1989), 7-8; and Sloan, "Historians and the American Press, 1900-1945: Working 
Profession or Big Business?" American Journalism 3 (1986): 154-66. 

4. James W. Carey, "Tutting the World at Peril': A Conversation with James W. 
Carey," Journalism History 12 (1985): 38-53. 

Catherine C. 
Mitchell is an as- 
sociate professor 
of mass communi- 
cation at the Uni- 
versity of North 
Carolina at Ashe- 
ville. Some of the 
material in this ar- 
ticle appeared in 
her 1987 disserta- 
tion at the Univer- 
sity of Tennessee 
and in a paper pre- 
sented at the 1989 
meeting of the 
Women's Studies 


AJ /Winter 1990 

"Men have defined 
their experience as 
history and have 
left women out. 
. . . women are 
urged to fit into 
the empty spaces, 
assuming tfieir tra< 
ditional marginal, 

- Gerda Lerner, 

The Majority 

Finds Its Past. 

Carey, journalism historians have tended to describe "the slow, 
steady expansion of freedom and knowledge from the political 
press to the commercial press, the setbacks into sensationalism 
and yellow journalism, the forward thrust into muckraking and 
social responsibility."^ Carey says the problem with this stance 
is not so much that it is wrong as that historians have exhausted 
the vein. Carey argues that journalism history has been too 
narrowly defined, not adequately based in a "sense of historical 
time" and not connected to other historical research.* Others 
have agreed. For instance, Stevens and Garcia note that most 
journalism history has treated "individuals (producers) as shapers 
of American media." They argue that cultural forces have had as 
much to do with shaping media as have individuals.^ 

In response journalism historians have turned away from bi- 
ography and are asking other questions. For instance, Nord has 
asked how newspapers function as a part of society as a whole.® 
Caudill has discussed the relationship between contemporary 
intellectual thought and the content of newspapers.' Others 
have objected to this deemphasis on Great Man journalism 
history. Washburn argues. 

It's time for mass communication historians to over- 
come a fear of the Great Man Theory and get on with 
telling history as it really occurred — in other words, 
with the human element in it.^° 
In summary, then, journalism historians today are asking 
research questions about the media's relationship to society. At 
the same time a new subdiscipline of journalism history has 
arisen, the study of women working in journalism. Scholars 
working in this subdiscipline face a dilemma. If they want to 
write biographies, they must justify their work at a time when 
journalism history as a whole tends to reject this approach. These 
conflicting ideas about biography are not unique to journalism 
history. American historians in general, influenced by the French 
Annales School, have turned away from Great Man History.^^ 
Yet in the field of women's history as a whole scholars at first 

5. James W. Carey, "The Problem of Journalism History," Journalism History 1 
(1974): 3-5, 27. 

6. Carey, "The Problem of Journalism History," 30. 

7. John Stevens and Hazel Dicken Garcia, Communication History (Beverly Hills, 
Calif.: Sage, 1980), 24. 

8. David Paul Nord, "The Authority of Truth: Religion and the John Peter 
Zenger Case," Journalism Quarterly 62 (1985): 227-35. 

9. Ed Caudill, "A Content Analysis of Press Views of Darwin's Theories of 
Evolution, 1860-1925," Journalism Quarterly 64 (1987): 782-86, 946. 

10. Patrick S. Washburn, "Books — ^Not Articles — Advocated," Clio Among the 
Media 19 (April 1987), 4. 

11. See, for instance, Michael Kammen, "Tlie Historian's Vocation and the State 
of the Discipline in the United States," and Peter M. Steams, 'Toward a Wider 
Vision: Trends in Social History," in The Past Before Us, ed. Michael Kammen 
(Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), 19-46, 205-30. 



concentrated on writing biographies.^^ Gerda Lerner (whom 
Kraus and Joyce have called "the most important practitioner of 
women's history today") has addressed this conundrum.^^ 

Lerner argues that there are four stages in the evolution of 
historical scholarship. Historians in any new subdiscipline, she 
says, first write "compensatory history." According to Lerner, in 
women's history scholars first tell the stories of "women wor- 
thies." She says historians ask, "Who are the women missing 
from history? Who are the women of achievement and what did 
they achieve?"^* Journalism historians writing at this stage are 
compensating for the absence of women from history books. 
They seek out the women who worked in newspapering and 
write descriptive biographies. Marion Marzolf's Up from the 
Footnote is an example of compensatory history, an attempt to 
bring women into the mainstream of journalism history.^^ 

"Contribution history," Lerner' s second stage, focuses on 
"women's contribution to, their status in, and their oppression 
by male-defined society."^* Contribution history is valuable, she 
says, because it develops "more complex and sophisticated 
questions." However, its limitation is that historians continue to 
operate in a traditional conceptual framework. "When all is said 
and done, what we have mostly done in writing contribution 
history is to describe what men in the past told women to do and 
what men in the past thought women should be."^^ Journalism 
historians writing at this stage look at how news women's work 
contributed to larger political or social movements. These schol- 
ars take a more analytical approach, but they are writing biogra- 
phies asking the same questions which historians have also 
asked about the contributions of news men. 

The third stage in the evolution of a conceptual framework for 
women's history Lerner calls the "transitional" stage. At this 
stage historians 

ask about the actual experience of women in the past. 
This is obviously different from a description of the 
condition of women written from the perspective of 
male sources, and leads one to the use of women's 
letters, diaries, autobiographies, and oral history 

12. Catharine R. Stimpson, Women's Studies in the United States O^ew York: Ford 
Foundation, 1986), 14. 

13. Michael Kratis and Davis D. Joyce, The Writing of American History (Norman: 
University of Oklahoma Press, 1985), 380. 

14. Lerner, 145. 

15. Marion Marzolf, Up from the Footnote: A History of Women Journalists (New 
York: Hastings, 1977). 

16. Lerner, 146. 

17. Lerner, 149. 

18. Urner, 153. 

Some other books 

by Gerda Lerner: 

The Woman in 
American History 

Blacic Women in 
White Amerka: A 
Documentary His- 

The Female Expe- 
rience: An Ameri- 
can Documentary 

Teaching Women's 
History (^9B^) 

A Death of One's 
Own (1985) 

The Creation of 
Patriarchy (^966). 


AJ /Winter 1990 

"A major focus of 
women's history 
has been on 
struggles, espe- 
cially the winning 

of suffrage 

This, again, is an 
important aspect 
of women's his- 
tory, but it cannot 
and should not be 
its central con- 

- Lemer, 

The Majority 

Finds its Past. 

The transitional stage, says Lemer, leads to the creation of 
new categories by which historians could organize their mate- 
rial: "sexuality, reproduction, the link between child-bearing 
and child-rearing; role indoctrination; sexual values and n\yths; 
female consciousness."^' Journalism historians writing at this 
stage ask questions like how a news woman's experience has 
been different from that of news men. Henry in advocating the 
use of methodologies besides biography, such as content analy- 
sis, takes a position which would push the study of women 
working in journalism into the transitional stage.^" She has 
argued that the study of the "relationship between personal 
circumstances and work accomplishments" of both men and 
women journalists could enrich journalism history .^^ 

Lerner predicts that the final stage in the evolution of women's 
history as a field will be a synthesis of women's and men's 
histories into a history of all people. Noting that women form the 
majority of the human jX)pulation, she points out the absurdity 
of discussing women's history as a subgroup.^ From Lerner's 
perspective the field of journalism history would change in this 
final phase. The transitional phase of examining the unique 
experience of news women will produce new historical ques- 
tions which can then also be asked of news men's experience. 
Both Henry and Covert have predicted this synthesis for 
journalism history. "The introduction of [the] woman's 
perspective . . . may provide a re-evaluation of journalism his- 
tory as traditionally composed," says Covert.^ The process of 
asking new questions about women "may well require challeng- 
ing and revising previously accepted precepts of journalism 
history that are not applicable to women," says Henry .^* 

At what conceptual stage is the history of women working in 
journalism? To find out, I used Lerner's four stages of history to 
categorize the seventy-seven articles and books indexed under 
"Women" in Sloan's American Journalism History: An Annotated 
Bibliography ^ and an additional sixteen articles published be- 
tween 1970 and 1986 in Journalism History and Journalism Quar- 
terly. Included in the categories were all articles that addressed 

19. Lemer, 158. 

20. Susan Henry, "Colonial Woman Printer as a Prototype: Toward a Model for 
the Study of Minorities," Journalism History 3 (1976): 20-24. 

21. Susan Henry, "Private Lives: An Added Dimension for Understanding 
Journalism History/' Journalism History 6 (1979): 98-102. 

22. Lerner, 159. 

23. Catherine L. Covert, "Journalism History and Women's Experience: A Prob- 
lem in Conceptual Change," Journalism History 8 (1981): 2-60. 

24. Susan Henry, "Journalism History and Women's History"(Paper presented 
at the annual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and 
Mass Communication, San Antonio, Texas, August 1987). 

25. William David Sloan, American Journalism History: An Annotated Bibliography 
(New York: Greenwood Press, 1989). 



women working in journalism as opposed to women as the sub- 
ject of articles in newspapers. Included were articles about 
suffrage newspapers published by women and articles about 
women working in journalism education. Excluded were bibli- 
ographies, articles on historiography, and scholarship on news- 
paper content about women, including newspaper content 
about the woman's suffrage movement. 

I found fifteen books, fifty-nine articles, and three disserta- 
tions on the history of women working in journalism. Ten 
scholars have published more than once in the area: Maurine 
Beasley, one book and nine articles; Sherilyn Cox Bennion, seven 
articles; Susan Henry, one book chapter, five articles, and her 
dissertation; Marion Marzolf, one book and two articles; Lynn 
Masel-Walters, three articles; Anne Mather, three articles; Zena 
Beth McGlashan, two articles and her dissertation; Ellen M. 
Oldham, two articles; and Kathleen Endres, two articles. 

The occasional piece on women working in journalism ap- 
peared before 1970, but the field came into its own in the early 
seventies vdth the largest number of books and articles (twelve) 
appearing in 1975. As Figure 1 shows, compensatory descrip- 
tions of women worthies dominate the scholarship on women 
working in journalism with a total of twelve books, thirty-three 
articles, and one dissertation.^^ As might be exjjected for this first 
conceptual phase, the bulk of these forty-six works were pub- 
lished in the 1970s, when the first concentrated work in the field 
was being done. However, scholars have not abandoned com- 
pensatory history. The most recent work in this category was 
published in 1986.2^ 

Another three books and twenty-three articles were contribu- 
tion history. Rather than just describing the women and their 
work, these pieces looked at issues like the journalists' contribu- 
tion to wider social movements, their roles in the newsroom, or 
their handling of ethical issues.^* Six of these appeared in the 
watershed year of 1975. However, as Figure 2 shows, contribu- 
tion articles became more frequent in the late seventies and early 

Four articles and one dissertation, the earliest in 1983, were 
written from the perspective of Lerner's transitional phase in the 

"Brenda Starr in 
the comic strips, 
Rosalind Russell 
in the nrwvies and 
Maiv Tyler Moore 
on TV may be the 
public's image of 
the woman re- 
porter. But the real 
thing ... has been 
infinitely more in- 
teresting than the 
- Marion Marzolf, 
Up From the 

26. For instance: Ira L. Baker, "Elizabeth Timothy: America's First Woman 
Editor," Journalism Quarterly 54 (1977): 280-85; Norma Schneider, "Qementina 
Rind: Editor, Daughter, Mother, Wife," Journalism History 1 (1974): 137-40; and 
Maurine Beasley, "Lorena A. Hickok: Woman Joumcilist," Journalism History 7 
(1980): 92-95, 113. 

27. Linda Steiner and Susanne Grey, "Genevieve Forbes Herrick: A Front Page 
Reporter 'Pleased to Write About Women,'" Journalism History 12 (1985): 8-16. 

28. For example, Zena Beth McGlashan, "Women Witness the Russian Revolu- 
tion: Analyzing Ways of Seeing," Journalism History 12 (1985): 54-61; Maurine 
H. Beasley, "A 'Front Page Girl' Covers the Lindbergh Kidnapping: An Ethical 
Dilemma," American Journalism 1 (1983): 63-74; Sherilyn Cox Bennion, "Fre- 
mont Older: Advocate for Women," Journalism History 3 (1976-77): 124-27. 


AJ /Winter 1990 

Figure 1 
Number of Articles and Books of Compensatory History, 1970-86 



1 -■ 

1 "™" ! 1^ I' ' I 1^ I 


70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 

Figure 2 
Number of Articles and Books of Contribution History, 1970-86 

1 - 

H 1 1- 

H h 

H y 

70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 


Mitchell 29 

conceptualization of history. For example, Maurine Beasley 
compared men's and women's experiences as eariy journalism 
students.^^ Susan Henry examined the work role of one colonial 
printer to see if she was different from or similar to other men 
and women printers on issues such as formal job training and 
personal mobility .^° And Linda Steiner examined how the proc- 
ess of women working together on nineteenth century suffrage 
newspapers helped create consensus about movement goals.^^ 

It is clear that scholarship on women working in journalism 
has concentrated at the compensatory stage, as Figure 3 sug- 
gests. That being the case, should descriptive biographies of 
women journalists be rejected as an outmoded approach, and 
should scholars instead proceed to ask broader, more sociologi- 
cal questions about news women? Henry, as early as 1 976, began 
calling for an advance to what Lemer would call the transitional 

Clearly, enough scholarship on women working in journal- 
ism has been amassed for some historians to proceed to transi- 
tional work. "The new stories of at least one hundred women 
journalists have been told," says Henry .^^ But one can argue the 
necessity for more biographical work, particularly at the stage of 
contribution history. The study of women working in journal- 
ism only came under concentrated study in the mid-1970s, and 
(comparatively speaking) the body of work is still not extensive. 
Sloan's bibliography contains 2,657 entries, of which only sev- 
enty-seven (or 3 percent) are indexed under women. As Hixson 
points out, subdisciplines "write their first histories in terms of 
great men."^* A goodly amount of work has appeared about the 
individual women who have worked in journalism, but by no 
means have all of the stories of women journalists been aired. For 
example, looking at only eleven western states plus Alaska and 
Hawaii, Bennion compiled a list of more than 2(X) nineteenth- 
century women editors.^^ There must be even more women not 

29. Maurine Beasley, "Women in Journalism Education: The Formative Period, 
1908-1930," Journalism History 13 (1986): 10-18. 

30. Susan Henry, "Exception to the Female Model: Colonial Printer Mary 
Crouch," Journalism Quarterly 62 (1985): 725-33, 749. 

31. Linda Steiner, "Finding Community in Nineteenth Century Suffrage 
Periodicals," American Journalism 1 (1983): 1-15. 

32. Henry, "Colonial Woman Printer," 20-24. 

33. Susan Henry, "Changing Media History Through Women's History," in 
Women in Mass Communication, ed. Pamela J. Creedon (Newbury Park, Calif.: 
Sage, 1989). 

34. Richard F. Hixson, "The Challenge of Regionalism," in Mass Media and the 
National Experience, ed. Ronald T. Farrar and John D. Stevens (New York: 
Harper, 1971), 87. 

35. Sherilyn Cox Bennion, "A Working List of Women Editors of the Nineteenth 
Century West," Journalism History 7 (1980): 60-65. 


AJ /Winter 1990 

Figure 3 
Proportions of Compensatory, Contribution, and Transitional History, 1970-86 

M Compensatory History (46 works) 59.7% 
S Contribution History (26 works) 33.8% 
H Transitional History (5 works) 6.5% 



yet found who worked in the nineteenth century on newspapers 
in the thirty-seven other states. 

Scott reports her experience doing research on the southern 
progressive nnovement: 

As I searched the record for Southern progressives I 
kept stumbling over women: well-dressed, well-spo- 
ken southern ladies taking a strong hand in social and 
political issues. At first I was puzzled since none of the 
people who had written on this subject (luminaries 
such as C. Vann Woodward and Arthur Link) had 
prepared me to find women there at all. But women 
were there, and they made a difference.^^ 
In American journalism, too, women may well have been 
there everywhere and they may have made a difference. Bio- 
graphical research, particularly at the stage of contribution 
history, must continue because scholars have not yet established 
the extent of women's contribution in the history of American 

In addition, biography is crucial to the beginning of an histori- 
cal subdiscipline because the biographers do much of the docu- 
mentary spade work, preparing the soil for historians who come 
later planting more sophisticated questions. The biographers 
often discover the primary sources that other historians use. 
Mary Beard in the 1930s used the slogan "No documents, no 
history" to point out the need to collect archival material on 
women.^^ Smith notes that biographies of women in media can 
provide the factual detail necessary to write "a larger sociocul- 
tural interpretation."^^ 

Revisionist biographies can also provide new information, 
new perspectives. Scholars in American literature have pro- 
duced a plethora of work on Margaret Fuller, an important 
woman in journalism and one of the most renowned women of 
the nineteenth century. But there is still room for the journalism 
historian to study Fuller because her biographers have treated 
her as a woman worthy who influenced the evolution of literary 
criticism through her articles in the New York Tribune?^ Because 
they are not concerned with newspaper history, references to 

36. Anne Firor Scott, Making the Invisible Woman Visible (Urbana: University of 
Illinois Press, 1984), xix. 

37. Stimpson, 7. 

38. Mary Ann Yodelis Smith, "Research Retrospective: Feminism and the 
Media/' Communication Research 9 (1982): 152. 

39. Margaret Vanderharr Allen, The Achievement of Margaret Fuller (University 
Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1979); Katharine Anthony, Margaret 
Fuller (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Harve, 1920); Margaret Bell, Margaret 
Fuller (1930; reprint, Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Free Libraries Press, 1971); Faith 
Chipperfield, In Quest of Love: The Life and Death of Margaret Fuller (New York: 
Coward-McCann, 1957); Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Margaret Fuller Ossoli 
(1884; reprint. New York: Haskell House, 1968); Mason Wade, Margaret Fuller: 
Vfhetstone of Genius (New York: Viking, 1940). 

"In 1958 all the 
historians of 
women in the 
United States 
could have met in 
[a] tiny hotel room, 
which was all any 
one of the three 
could afford at his- 
torical meetings. 
Twenty years later 
conferences on 
women's history 
attracted 2,000 
people and over- 
ran whole college 
- Anne Firor Scott, 
Making the tnvisi- 

32 AJ/Winter 1990 

Fuller's place within the organization of the New York Tribune are 


Compensatory biographies dominate the scholarship on 
women working in journalism, but this does not mean scholars 
should now reject biography as outmoded. There is a clear need 
for more contribution biography, a need to establish a clear 
picture of the contribution of women to journalism history. In 
addition biographers, writing at both the compensatory and 
contribution stages, provide important information for scholars 
who wish to work at the transitional stage. First, biographers 
find the primary sources necessary for all historical research. 
Second, they can make important corrections in previous bio- 
graphical scholarship. 

Historiographers arguing for broader perspectives are cor- 
rect in saying that the goal of scholars studying women working 
in journalism should be to enhance journalism history with the 
new perspectives provided by research into women's topics. 
However, it is important to remember that the area of women 
working in journalism is still very young. Compensatory and 
contribution scholars working in this very young subdiscipline 
have laid the groundwork for some historians to begin entering 
the transitional phase; but even more biographical work will 
provide an even broader foundation in which to ground transi- 
tional scholarship. 

40. Catherine C. Mitchell, "Horace Greeley's Star:^Margaret Fuller's New York 
Tribxme Journalism, 1844-1846," (Ph.D. diss.. University of Tennessee, Knoxvllle, 



Categorized by Gerda Lerner's 
Stages of History 

Catherine C. Mitchell 


Alpem, Sara. Freda Kirchwey: A Woman of the Nation. Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1987. 

Adamson, June. "Nellie Kenyon and the Scopes 'Monkey Trial.'" 
Journalism History 2 (1975): 88-89. 

Baker, Ira L. "Elizabeth Timothy: America's First Woman Editor." 
Journalism Quarterly 54 (1977): 280-85. 

Beasley, Maurine. "The Curious Career of Anne Royall." Journal- 
ism History 3 (1976-77): 98-102. 

. "Lorena A. Hickok: Woman Journalist." Journalism His- 

tory? {\9S0): 92-95, U^. 

-. "Mary Clemmer Ames: A Victorian Woman Journalist.' 

Hayes Historical Journal (Spring 1978): 57-63. 

'Pens and Petticoats: Early Woman Washington 

Correspondents." Journalism History 1 (1974-75): 112-15, 136. 

,ed. The White House Conferences of Eleanor Roosevelt. New 

York: Gariand, 1983. 

Beasley, Maurine, and Paula Belgrade. "Eleanor Roosevelt: First 
Lady as Radio Pioneer." Journalism History 11 (1984): 42-48. 

Beasley, Maurine, and Sheila Silver. Women in Media: A Docu- 
mentary Sourcebook. Washington: Women's Institute for Free- 
dom of the Press, 1977. 

34 AJ/Winter 1990 

Belford, Barbara. Brilliant Bylines: A Biographical Anthology of 
Notable Newspaper Women in America. New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1986. 

Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. "A Working List of Women Editors of the 
Nineteenth Century West." Journalism History 7 (1980): 60-65. 

Bradshaw, James Stanford. "Mrs. Rayne's School of Journalism." 
Journalism Quarterly 60 (1983): 513-17, 579. 

Bridges, Lamar W. "Eliza Jane Nicholson of the Picayune." 
Journalism History 2 (1975-76): 110-15. 

Brigham, Clarence S. Journals and Journeymen: Contributions to the 
History of the Early American Newspapers. Philadelphia: Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania Press, 1950. 

Brown, Charles B. "A Woman's Odyssey: The War Correspon- 
dence of Anna Benjamin." Journalism Quarterly 46 (1969): 

Chapin, Howard M. "Anne Franklin, Printer." American Collec- 
tor 2 (1926): 461ff. 

Chudacoff, Nancy Fisher. "Woman in the News 1762-1770 — 
Sarah Updike Goddard." Rhode Island History 32-33 (1973): 

Collins, Jean E. She Was There: Stories of Pioneering Women Journal- 
ists. New York: J. Messner, 1980. 

Daniels, Elizabeth Adams. '7essie White Mario: Nineteenth 
Century Foreign Correspondent." Journalism History 2 (1975): 

Drewry, John E., ed. More Post Biographies of Famous Journalists. 
Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1947. 

Eberhard, Wallace B. "Sarah Porter Hillhouse: Setting the Rec- 
ord Straight." Journalism History 1 (1974-75): 133-36. 

Endres, Kathleen. "Jane Grey Swisshelm: Nineteenth Century 
Joumalistand Feminist" JournalismHistory2 (1975-76): 128-31. 

Henry, Susan. "Ann Franklin: Rhode Island's Woman Printer." 
In Colonial Newsletters and Newspapers: Eighteenth-Century Jour- 
nalism, edited by Donovan H. Bond and W. ReynoldsMcLeod. 
Morgantown, W.Va.: School of Journalism, West Virginia 
University, 1977. 

Mitchell 35 

. "Reporting Deeply and at First Hand: 'Helen Campbell 

in the Nineteenth Century Slums." /OM rnfl/zsm His fory 11 (1 984 ) : 

. "Sarah Goddard, Gentlewoman Printer." Journalism 

Quarterly 57 (1980): 23-30. 

Henry, Susan Jane. "Notes Toward the Liberation of Journalism 
History: A Study of Five Women Printers in Colonial Amer- 
ica." Ph.D. diss., Syracuse University, 1976. 

Hooper, Leonard. "Woman Printers in America's Colonial 
Times." Journalism Educator 29 (1974): 24-27. 

Hull, Gloria T. "Alice Dunbar-Nelson: Delaware Writer and 
Woman of Affairs." Delaware History 17 (1976): 87-103. 

Jackson, George. Uncommon Scold: The Story of Anne Royall 
Boston: Bruce Humphries, 1937. 

Jones, Douglas C. 'Teresa Dean: Lady Correspondent Among 
the Sioux Indians." Journalism Quarterly 49 (1972): 656-62. 

Kenney, Anne R. "'She Got to Berlin': Virginia Irwin, St. Louis 
Post-Dispatch War Correspondent." Missouri Historical Review 
79 (1985): 456-79. 

Marzolf, Marion. Up from the Footnote: A History of Women Jour- 
nalists. New York: Hastings House, 1977. 

May, Antoinette. Witness to War: A Biography of Marguerite 
Higgins. New York: Beaufort, 1983. 

Oldham, Ellen M. "Early Women Printers of America." Boston 
Public Library Quarterly 10 (1958): 6-26; 78-92; 141-53. 

Ringwalt, Jessie E. "Early Female Printers in America." Printer's 
Circular 7 (1872): 284-85. 

Ross, Ishbel. Ladies of the Press. New York: Harper, 1936. 

Rush, Ramona R. "Patterson, Grindstead and Hostetter: Pioneer 
Journalism Educators." Journalism History 1 (1974): 129-32. 

Schilpp, Madelon Golden, and Sharon M. Murphy. Great Women 
of the Press. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 

36 AJ/Winter 1990 

Schneider, Norma. "Clementina Rmd: 'Editor, Daughter, Mother, 
Wife/" Journalism History 1 (1974-75): 137-40. 

Smith, Harold Ladd. "TheBeauteousJennieJune: Pioneer Woman 
Journalist." Journalism Quarterly 40 (1963): 169-74. 

Steiner, Linda, and Susanne Grey. "Genevieve Forbes Herrick: A 
Front Page Reporter 'Pleased to Write About Women.'" Jour- 
nalism History 12 (1985): 8-16. 

Tinling, Marion. "Hermione Day and the Hesperian." California 
History 59 (1980-81): 282-89. 

White, Karl T. "Frontier Journalist Stakes Early Claim." Matrix 
65 (1980): 24-27. 

Wiseman, Diane. "The Underwood Beat." Westways 72 (1980): 

Beasley, Maurine. "Lorena A. Hickok: Journalistic Influence on 
Eleanor Roosevelt." Journalism Quarterly 75 (1985): 281-86. 

Beasley, Maurine H. "A 'Front Page Girl' Covers the Lindbergh 
Kidnapping: AnEthical Dilemma. Amencan/owrna/ism 1(1983): 

Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. "Early Western Publications Expose 
Women's Suffrage Cries." Matrix 64 (1979): 6-9. 

-. "Fremont Older: Advocate for Women." Journalism 

History 3 (1976-77): 124-27. 

'The New Northwest and Woman's Exponent: Early 

Voices for Suffrage." Journalism Quarterly 54 (1977): 286-92. 
-. "The Pioneer: The First Voice of Women's Suffrage in 

the West." Pacific Historian 25 (1981): 15-21. 

'The Woman's Exponent: Forty-two Years of Speaking 

for Women." Utah Historical Quarterly 44 (1976): 222-39. 

'Woman Suffrage Papers of the West, 1869-1914. 

American Journalism 3 (1986): 125-41. 

Demeter, Richard L. Printer, Presses and Composing Sticks: Women 
Printers of the Colonial Period. New York: Exposition Press, 

Mitchell 37 

Endres, Kathleen L. "The Symbiotic Relationship of Eleanor 
Roosevelt and the Press: The Pre-War Years." Midwest Com- 
munications Research Journal 2 (1979): 57-65. 

Henry, Susan. "Margaret Draper: Colonial Printer Who Chal- 
lenged the Patriots," Journalism History 1 (1974-75): 145. 

Hudak, Leona M. Early American Women Printers and Publishers: 
1639-1820. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1978. 

McGlashan, Zena Beth. "Club l^adies' and Working 'Girls': 
Rheta Childe Door and the New York Evening Post." Journalism 
History 8 {1981): 7-13. 

'The Evolving Status of Newspaperwomen." Ph.D. 

diss.. University of Iowa, 1978. 

-. "Women Witness the Russian Revolution: Analyzing 

Ways of Seeing." Journalism History 12 (1985): 54-61. 

Marzolf, Marion. 'The Woman Journalist: Colonial Printer to 
City Desk, Part II." Journalism History 2 (1975): 24-27. 

'The Woman Journalist: Colonial Printer to City Desk." 

Journalism History 1 (1974-75): 100-107. 

Masel- Walters, Lynne. "A Burning Cloud by Day: The History 
and Content of the 'Woman's Journal.'" Journalism History 3 
(1977): 103-10. 

'For the Poor Mute Mothers: Margaret Sanger and the 

Woman Rebel." Journalism History 11 (1975): 2-10. 

'Their Rights and Nothing More: A History of The Revo- 

lution, 1868-1870." Journalism Quarterly 53 (1976): 242-51. 

Mather, Anne. "A History of Feminist Periodicals, Part I." Jour- 
nalism History 1 (1974): 82-85. 

'A History of Feminist Periodicals, Part II." Journalism 

History 1 (1974-75): 108-11. 

'A History of Feminist Periodicals, Part III." Journalism 

History 2 (1975): 19-23, 31. 

Roberts, Nancy L. "Journalism for Justice: Dorothy Day and the 
Catholic Worker." Journalism History 10 (1983): 2-9. 

38 AJ/Winter 1990 

Ruegamer, Lana. The Paradise of Exceptional Women: Chicago 
Women Reformers, 1863-1893. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University 
Microfilms, 1985. 

Stearns, Bertha-Monica. "Reform Periodicals and Female Re- 
formers 1830-1860." American Historical Review 37 (1932): 

Beasley, Maurine. "Women in Journalism Education: The For- 
mative Period, 1908-1930." /oMrnfl/fsmHisfon/13 (1986): 10-18. 

Henry, Susan. "Exception to the Female Model: Colonial Printer 
Mary Crouch." Journalism Quarterly 62 (1985): 725-33, 749. 

. "'Dear Companion, Ever-Ready Co- Worker': A Woman's 

Role in a Media Dynasty." Journalism Quarterly 64 (1987): 

Steiner, Linda. "Finding Community in Nineteenth Century 
Suffrage Periodicals." American Journalism 1 (1983): 1-15. 

'The Woman's Suffrage Press, 1850-1900: A Cultural 

Analysis." Ph.D. Diss., University of Illinois, 1979. 

Historiographical Essay 





How Historians Have Told 
the Stories of Women Journalists 

Maurine H. Beasley 

WOMEN HAVE PARTICIPATED in American journalism since 
its beginnings but their involvement has been interpreted am- 
biguously. On one hand they have been seen as contributors to 
male experiences; on the other as creators who have used jour- 
nalism to give voice to feminine aspirations. So far there has 
been no extensive examination or resolution of those conflicting 
interpretations, in large part because the history of women in 
journalism received little attention for years. Happily, however, 
this is no longer true. 

In the last two decades scholars have added to the field of 
journalism history by focusing attention on women's roles. 
Susan Henry, former editor of Journalism History, pointed out 
that the first ten-year index (1974-83) of her journal contained 
twenty-six separate entries under the category "woman," the 
third largest topic category listed.^ She noted that the infusion 
of new work related to the history of women has been reflected 
in the history of a dominant journalism textbook. The Press and 
America, by Edwin and Michael Emery. While the heading 
"women in journalism" in the Emerys' index led to only five 
pages in the third edition of the book in 1972, it referred to a total 
of 103 pages in the sixth edition of the work in 1988.^ 

The broad question of the historiography of women in jour- 
nalism has not been addressed. Henry contended that this new 
scholarship generally fell within the accepted boundaries of 
conventional male-oriented journalism history, although she 
pointed out that no full-fledged critique of works about journal- 
ism history existed.^ 

1. Svisan Henry, "Changing Media History Through Women's History," in 
Women inMass Communication: Challenging Gender Values, ed. Pamela E. Creedon 
(Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1989), 35. 

2. Henry, 36. 

3. Henry, 39-40. 

Maurine H. Beasley 
is professor of 
journalism at the 
University of Mary- 
land-College Parle. 
She is the author 
of Eleanor 
Roosevelt and the 
/Med« (1987), and 
has written, ed- 
ited, or co-au- 
thored five other 
boolcs. She is cur- 
rent president of 
the American 
Journalism Histo- 
rians Association. 


AJ /Winter 1990 

Women printers 

mentioned by 

Isaiah Thomas: 
Jane Aitken 

Cornelia Bradford 

Elizabeth Bushnell 
Mary Crouch 
Anne Draper 
Maria Edes 
Anne Franklin 
Mary Goddard 
Sarah Goddard 

Ann Green 

Ann Greenleaf 

Elizabeth Holt 

Clementina Rind 

Anne Timothy 

Elizabeth Timothy 
Lucy Trumbull 

Catherine Zenger. 

This article reviews material, both old and new, on the history 
of women in journalism to see where it fits, if at all, within the 
general framework of journalism historiography set forth by 
William David Sloan, former editor of American Journalism. His 
work was selected because he has done more than any other 
scholar to provide an historiographical structure for the field. 

According to Sloan, most works on journalism history can be 
placed within seven schools: (1) Nationalist, which viewed the 
press as a primary factor in America's political destiny during 
the early nineteenth century; (2) Romantic, which stressed the 
role of great editors and became popular in the second half of the 
nineteenth century; (3) Developmental, which emphasized the 
evolution of professional standards in the late nineteenth and 
much of the twentieth century; (4) Progressive, which flowered 
in the pre- World War II period and saw the press as a tool for 
liberal social change; (5) Consensus, which emerged after World 
War II and found journalism a reflection of shared values in 
American society; (6) Cultural, which stemmed from the work 
of Robert E. Park, a University of Chicago sociologist, who f>er- 
cei ved journalism as the product of interaction with the environ- 
ment; and (7) Libertarian, which upheld the value of freedom of 
the press and became a theme of numerous journalism histori- 

Sloan acknowledged that some journalism history had been 
written from other perspectives, such as the Marxist and the 
neoconservative, but he contended that these schools repre- 
sented only a fraction of the entire body of historical work and 
did not necessitate study .^ He did not mention a feminist phi- 
losophy. Yet, as will be seen, significant scholarship on the 
history of women in journalism has been influenced, at least to 
some extent, by this approach. Nevertheless, most of the history 
of women in journalism has not questioned conventional per- 
spectives even though it has departed from the type of history 
written about males. 

Like women's history in general, the history of women in 
journalism was not deemed worthy of study for years. Sloan's 
historiographical framework provided the introduction to his 
annotated bibliography of some 2,600 scholarly works on jour- 
nalism history. The index showed it contained only about eighty 
entries under the heading "women" plus forty-four others refer- 
ring to women that were listed under different headings. Other 
references were listed in an unannotated twelve-page bibliogra- 
phy compiled by Marion Marzolf, Ramona R. Rush, and Darlene 
Stern in the early 1970s.^ Citing biographies and references to 

4. William David Sloan, "Introduction," American Journalism History: An Anno- 
tated Bibliography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989), 2-8. 

5. Sloan, 8. 

6. Marion Marzolf, Ramona R. Rush, and Darlene Stem, "The Literature of 
Women in Journalism History," Journalism History 1 (1974-75): 117-28. 



women in general collections, it also provided material on the 
image of women, sex discrimination, and archival resources. 
Marzolf subsequently added a five-page supplement/ 

It is readily apparent that relatively little material documents 
the history of women in journalism. Even today only two com- 
prehensive histories of women in journalism can be found: 
Ishbel Ross's Ladies of the Press (1936) and Marzolf 's Up From the 
Footnote (1977).* Unfortunately neither book was documented. 

In this article most of the works reviewed are those cited in the 
Sloan and Marzolf, Rush, and Stem bibliographies, supple- 
mented by mention of works in the nineteenth and early twen- 
tieth centuries. The early works provided a benchmark with 
which to measure the profusion of recent scholarship. In fact, the 
nineteenth century set the parameters of debates on the role of 
women in journalism history that continue today. Have women 
in journalism chiefly contributed to the male experience or have 
they provided an intrinsic dimension uniquely their own? The 
definitive answer is yet to come. 


The first historian of American journalism was Isaiah Thomas, 
whose The History of Printing in America in 1810 briefly men- 
tioned the role of women. Sloan placed Thomas's work as the 
cornerstone of the nationalist perspective.^ In chronicling con- 
tributions of newspapers to the new American nation, Thomas 
noted that it was common for widows, "especially of printers, 
innkeepers and traders, to take up and carry on the husband's 
trade, and not uncommon for them to set up businesses of their 
own."^° Subsequent writers pointed out that women were in- 
volved in producing at least a dozen newspapers before the 
Revolution.^^ All were wives or daughters (or in the case of Sarah 
and Mary Katherine Goddard, a mother and sister respectively) 
of male printer-publishers.^^ 

Thomas praised women printers for being industrious and 
able to carry on family businesses until their sons were old 
enough to take over. He described Anne Franklin, widow of 

"A gentleman who 
was acquainted 
with Anne Franklin 
and her family, in- 
formed me that he 
had often seen her 
daughters at work 
in the printing 
house, and that 
they were sensible 
ana amiable 
- Isaiah Thomas, 

The History 
of Printing 

in America. 

7. Marion Marzolf, "The Literature of Women in Journalism History: A 
Supplement," Journalism History 3 (1976-77): 116-20. 

8. See Ishbel Ross, Ladies of the Press: The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider 
OSfew York: Harper's, 1 936), and Marion Marzolf, Up From the Footnote: A History 
of Women Journalists (New York: Hastings House, 1977). 

9. Sloan, 2. 

10. Isaiah Thomas, The History of Printing in America, 2 vols. (Worcester, Mass.: 
Isaiah Thomas Jr., 1810), l:xx. 

11. A list can be found in Edith May Marken, "Women in American Journalism 
Before 1900" (M.A. thesis. University of Missouri-Columbia, 1932), 12. See also 
Elisabeth Dexter, Colonial Women of Affairs (New? York: Houghton Mifflin, 1924), 

12. See Susan Henry, "Sarah Goddard, Gentlewoman Printer," Journalism Quar- 
terly 57 (1980): 23-30. 


AJ/Winter 1990 

• • • • • 

"The lady-editors 
who by 1828 were 
beginnlna to take 
charge of periodi- 
cals . . . were in- 
tent rather upon 
disarming criti- 
cism anaproving 
that nothing need 
be feared from 
their harmless 
- Bertha-Monica 
Steams, "Reform 
Periodicals and 
Female Reformers." 

James, as being aided in publishing the Newport Mercury by her 
two daughters, who "were correct and quick compositors at 
case."" Of Cornelia Bradford, who ran the American Weekly Mer- 
cury in Philadelphia after the death of her husband, he wrote ap- 
provingly: "The Mercury was well printed on a good type dur- 
ing the whole time she had management of it."^* Thomas's work 
set a tone for much of the journalism history to follow. He 
pictured women as dutiful supporters of males and limited 
participants in the vital national work of journalism. 

Jessie E. Ringwalf s 1872 article on "Early Female Printers in 
America" continued in this vein.^^ The article presented a factual 
account of eleven women printers. It ended by commenting that 
the list easily could be lengthened with names of widows com- 
pelled to assume printing businesses without trying to achieve 
excellence in the trade.^^ 

By contrast, a feminist point of view emerged in the late 
nineteenth century, not surprisingly tied to the campaign for 
suffrage. A chapter on "Women in Newspapers" in the 1889 
edition of the History of Woman Suffrage drew on the achieve- 
ments of colonial women journalists as a backdrop for the 
accomplishments of nineteenth-century women.^'' The work of 
eighteen women journalists before 1800 was cited. Next came 
the names of thirty-four women, many of them editors of 
women's magazines and reform publications, who were cred- 
ited with significant roles in the journalism of the first six 
decades of the nineteenth century. Anna W. Spencer, for ex- 
ample, was acclaimed for starting the Pioneer and Woman's 
Advocate in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1852, "the earliest 
paper established in the United States for the advocacy of 
Woman's Rights."^* Some thirty suffrage newspapers in the 
United States and abroad were mentioned. The chapter also 
gave the names of thirteen women who edited or contributed to 
"fashion papers" and general newspapers and magazines. It 
contended, 'The political columns of many papers are prepared 
by women, men often receiving the credit."^' 

Similarly women's achievements were celebrated in a chap- 
ter on the history of women journalists in Woman's Work in 
America^ The chapter traced the rise of women as correspon- 

13. Thomas, 1:195. 

14. Thomas, 1:244. 

15. Jessie E. Ringwalt, "Early Female Printers in America," Printer's Circular 7 
(1872): 284-85. 

16. Ringwalt, 285. 

17. "Women in Newspapers," in History of Woman Suffrage , ed. Elisabeth Cady 
Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, 6 vols. (Rochester, N.Y.: 
Charles Mann, 1889), 1:43-49. 

18. Stanton et al., 1:46. 

19. Stanton etal, 1:49. 

20. Susan E. Dickinson, "Woman in Journalism," in Woman's Work in America, ed. 
Annie Meyer (New York: Holt and Co., 1891), 128-38. 



dents and reporters on metropolitan newspapers and as editors 
of various publications, noted the founding of women's press 
associations, and referred to the presence of "Anglo-African 
sisters" in the journalistic field. In endeavoring to draw women 
into the occupation, it argued optimistically that journalism was 
a "fair field" for women, offering them pay comparable to that 
given men.^^ 

This type of historical writing, which promoted women's 
emergence into journalism, differed greatly from works by and 
about men, who remained in firm control of the occupation. 
Sloan's analysis of the Romantic school of journalism history 
writing in the late nineteenth century — which featured "great" 
male editors like Horace Greeley — can be applied only in a con- 
voluted way in dealing with the history of women in journalism. 
It emphasized things hoped for, not achieved. For instance, the 
chapter on women journalists in the History of Woman Suffrage 
ended: "If the proverb that 'the pen is mightier than the sword' 
be true, woman's skill and force in using this mightier weapon 
must soon change the destinies of the world."^ 

A similar feminist approach was taken in an 1892 article on the 
sixty-member Woman's Press Club of New York. An account of 
the group, which had been founded three years earlier, stressed 
the "unity, fellowship and cooperation" among the members.^ 
The article included twenty-two biographical sketches of out- 
standing members of the club, founded by Mrs. J. C. Croly, 
whose pen name was "Jennie June." She was called "the first 
woman upon the staff of a daily pap>er in this city," and was 
credited with creating "the demand for women contributors" as 
well as the syndication of women's columns.^* The article con- 
cluded with the observation that the women did not judge each 
other on their looks or wits but displayed a "cordial relation of 
sisterly helpfulness."^ 

One of the most significant works on the history of journalism 
appeared in lS73,}ourmlism in the United States,from 1 690 tol872. 
Like many journalism histories to come, it was written by a 
journalist, Frederic Hudson, managing editor of the New York 
Herald. According to Sloan, Hudson was the first and perhaps 
the most important of the Developmental historians, who pic- 
tured journalism as a progression from the political to the 
professional in terms of news-oriented techniques.^^ 

Hudson devoted a chapter to "Female Journalists," begrudg- 
ingly recognizing the achievements of Sarah Josepha Hale. She 

21. Dickinson, 138. 

22. Stanton etal., 1:49. 

23. Fannie A. Mathews, "The Woman's Press Qub of New York City," 
Cosmopolitan 13 (August 1892): 45S-61. 

24. Mathew, 455. 

25. Mathew, 461. 

26. Sloan, 4. 

"Women journal- 
ists by 1889 had 
nnade such an im- 
pact on the profes- 
sion that the Jour- 
nalist, a profes- 
sional joumal in 
New York City, de- 
voted Its entire 
January 26 issue 
to profiles of 50 
women editors 
and reporters, 10 
of them black." 
- Marion IMarzolf, 
Up from the 


AJ/Winter 1990 

"Our large cities 
are now the 
centres of numer- 
ous female writers 

and reporters 

They are bright, in- 
fluential, many of 
them beautiful, tal- 
ented, experi- 
enced, and useful. 
Some of them are 
Bohemians in 
- Frederic Hudson, 
Journalism in the 
United States. 

was editor of a magazine, Godex/s Lady's Book, "not a newspa- 
per," so it "can scarcely, therefore, come within the scop>e of a 
compilation like this one," Hudson wrote.^^ Nevertheless, he 
referred favorably to the high technical quality of fashion plates 
and engravings in ladies' magazines like Godex/s. Suffrage pub- 
lications, in Hudson's words, were edited by "strong-minded 
women," who were "active and persistent workers, full of 
poetry and poverty . . . pouts and persuasiveness, in pushing 
their plan of reform before the monster public."^* The good he 
saw in these publications was recognition of the power of the 
press in social movements. 

Hudson mentioned women who had succeeded male rela- 
tives as newspaper publishers, including Piney W. Forsythe of 
the Liberty {Mississippi) Advocate, "who lately declined to attend 
a convention of Mississippi editors for fear her male contempo- 
raries would stare at her." Hudson found this acceptable behav- 
ior. He wrote, "There are now quite a number of female manag- 
ers and publishers [who] do not put themselves forward or make 
themselves very conspicuous in their profession."^' 

Hudson obviously believed it was permissible for women to 
be journalists as long as they fit discreetly within the male- 
dominated field. This is a view of women's role that has marked 
much historical writing. As the historian Joan Wallach Scott 
stated, "Historians cannot use a single, universal representative 
for the diverse populations of any society or culture without 
granting differential importance to one group over another."^" 
As long as man, or men's experience, was made the universal 
representative of journalism, then woman, or women's experi- 
ence, was seen as exceptional and outside a norm into which 
women had to struggle to fit. This viewpoint marked the history 
of women journalists written during much of the twentieth cen- 

Relatively few works on women in journalism history ap- 
peared in the first decades of the twentieth century, and those 
that did fit into, or between, the feminist and developmental 
perspectives. An early work was Sarah H. Porter's biography of 
Anne Royall, a Washington editor-publisher from 1832 to 1854 
and the first person in the United States to have been convicted 
as a "common scold ."^^ Porter tried to expose male biases against 
Royall. An investigative journalist who attacked organized reli- 

27. Frederic Hudson, Journalism in ttte United States, from 1690 to 1872 (New York: 
Harper & Row, 1873), 497. 

28. Hudson, 498. 

29. Hudson, 499. 

30. Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1989), 25. 

31 . Sarah H. Porter, The Life and Times of Anne Rctyall (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch 
Press, 1909), 221. 

Beasley 45 

gion, Royall was ridiculed as a funny old woman by men 
correspondents. Porter wrote her book to prove that Royall had 
been a victim of sex discrimination, judged on looks, attire, and 
unconventional behavior, rather than journalistic enterprise. 
George S. Jackson, in a 1937 biography, took a similar sympa- 
thetic approach to Royall. ^^ He held that history had written her 
off as a notorious eccentric because of her sex. 

The first academic study of the history of women journalists 
up to 1900 was a master's thesis written at the University of 
Missouri by Edith M. Marken in 1932. Influenced by her training 
at Missouri, the world's first school of journalism, Marken 
subscribed to the developmental model of historiography asso- 
ciated with journalism education. Rich with hundreds of names 
of individual women, the thesis reported on women's move- 
ment from specialized ladies' magazines to work on metropoli- 
tan newspaper staffs. As in almost all histories of women jour- 
nalists, sexual discrimination was described, although Marken 
said women could overcome it with "definite, specific knowl- 
edge, and the lighter, more delicate touch which imagination has 

In 1931 a popular biography of Sarah J. Hale appeared, 
written by Ruth Finley. She placed Hale within the context of 
great American women: first advocate of women as teachers in 
public schools; originator of the fight for retention of property 
rights by married women; founder of the first day nursery; 
campaigner for physical education for women and public 
playgrounds.^^ Yet Hale took no part in the suffrage movement 
and wrote sermons on women's moral duties to be good wives, 
although she favored their higher education. Finley treated her 
more as a representative of Victorian women's social progress 
than as a journalist. Therefore the book has a feminist viewpoint 
rather than the romantic perspective associated with biogra- 
phies of outstanding nineteenth century male editors. 

Hale had been accorded less significance in an article that 
appeared in the American Mercury a few years previous.^^ The 
author, Richard F. Warner, attributed the success of Godey's 
Lady's Book to the publisher, Louis A. Godey. Warner referred to 
Hale as Godey's "crew."^^ 

During the first third of the twentieth century the outlines for 
journalism history of women were set. Women, not men, be- 
came the predominant authors. They usually admired their 

32. George Stuyvesant Jackson, Uncommon Scold (Boston: Bruce Humphries Co., 
1937), 43-44. Another kindly portrayal came in Heber Blankenhorn, "The 
Grandma of the Muckrakers," American Mercury 12 (1927): 87-93. 

33. Marken, 129. 

34. Ruth E. Finley, The Lady of Godey's, Sarah Josepha Hale (Philadelphia: Lippin- 
cott, 1931), 17. 

35. Richard Fay Warner, "Godey's Lady's Book," American Mercury 2 (1924): 

36. Warner, 404. 


AJ/Winter 1990 

"Women report- 
ers, who mostly 
wrote society and 
soft news, were 
especially vulner- 
able during the 
Great Depression 
when one-third of 
all salaried news- 
paper employees 
lost their jobs." 
- Betty Winf ield, 
"Mrs. Roosevelt's 
Press Conference 

subjects, although they did not always surmount prevailing 
cultural biases toward women. These prejudices sometimes 
infused their work just as they did the work of some male 

A clear example occurred in Bertha-Monica Steam's 1934 
article on pre-Civil War women's reform periodicals in the 
American Historical Review.^''The subject could have been framed 
within the progressive model of historiography and the publica- 
tions treated as efforts in the struggle to achieve democracy. 
Instead Steam's language trivialized the reformers' concerns, al- 
though the article may be seen as a quasi-feminist work. The 
periodicals were said to have "clamored loudly for some Right, 
or agitated vigorously against some abuse."^* 

It was, however, a male historian, Arthur J. Larson, aided by 
his wife, who offered the first scholarly appraisal of Jane Grey 
Swisshelm.^' She was the editor of anti-slavery newspapers in 
western Pennsylvania and on the Minnesota frontier as well as 
the first woman to sit in the Congressional press galleries. In an 
introduction to a collection of her letters published in 1934, 
Larson adhered to the progressive school, painting his subject as 
a reformer and feminist who was "fearless in her adherence to 
what she considered the right."*° 

The first book on women journalists appeared in 1936 written 
by Ishbel Ross, who had been a well-regarded reporter for the 
New York Herald Tribune. Although she included the history of 
nineteenth-century journalists, her book. Ladies of the Press, 
subtitled "The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider," 
concentrated on Ross's contemporaries, hundreds of whom she 
contacted to gain material. Intended for a popular audience, it 
focused on women journalists' adventurous lives, giving dra- 
matic accounts of "sob sisters" and the yellow press. She pic- 
tured women reporters as individualists who continually had to 
prove themselves first-class performers to overcome male edi- 
tors' hostility. 

While Ross stressed the contributions of women to American 
journalism, she pointed out that they still were not welcome in 
the field, being forced to walk a wavering line between feminin- 
ity and reportorial behavior. Describing the woman reporter as 
a paradox, Ross said she must be "gentle in private life, ruthless 
at her work. . . . not too beguiling [because] trouble, beauty and 
sex are threats in any city room."*^ The highest compliment to 
which women respond "is the city editor's acknowledgment 

37. Bertha-Monica Steams, "Reform Periodicals and Female Reformers 1830- 
1860/' American Historical Review 37 (1932): 678-99. 

38. Stearns, 678. 

39. Arthur J. Larson, ed.. Crusader & Feminist: Letters of Jane Grey Swisshelm 
1855-1865 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1934), 1-32. 

40. Larson, 30. 

41. Ross, 8-9. 



that their work is just like a man's," Ross continued.*^ In an 
oblique way Ross's book can be seen as part of the development 
school, but it fits better into the feminist category because it 
showed women caught in psychological and social constraints. 
In this period women journalists were stereotyped. An ex- 
ample of stereotyping appeared in a biographical article on 
Anna CXHare McCormick, winner of a 1 937 Pulitzer Prize for her 
foreign correspondence in the New York Times. Current History 
termed McCormick, first woman to receive a major Pulitzer 
Prize, "vivacious, sparkling, dressed not smartly but with taste 
and a sense of style."^ It lauded her modesty in a man's preserve. 
Comments on dress and personality were ways of picturing 
women differently from men journalists and keeping women 
from being seen as their equals. 


A romantic approach to the history of women journalists 
characterized this period, marked by portrayals of women as 
contributors to male enterprises. This can be seen in the work of 
Sara Lockwood Williams, one of the first women professors of 
journalism, who in 1942 traced the history of women within Mis- 
souri journalism in The Matrix, the publication of Theta Sigma 
Phi, a journalism sorority. Lockwood focused on the contribu- 
tions of editors' wives to local newspapers based on speeches 
made by these women at press association meetings. For ex- 
ample, she quoted from a speech given in 1881 by Mrs. Susie 
McK. Fisher, wifeoftheeditor of thefflrmm^fon(Missouri)Times, 
who declared, "The tone of a newspaper with a woman on the 
staff is purer and more deserving of a place in every household."** 
Williams, whose husband, Walter, founded the University of 
Missouri School of Journalism where she taught, also subscribed 
to the developmental perspective. In her Matrix article she held 
that journalism education had provided "equal opportunities" 
for Missouri women to prove their worth in the field .^ 

In a quasi-biographical novel, Kent Cooper pictured Anna 
Zenger as a heroine of American journalism. He presented her 
as the guiding spirit behind her husband, John Peter, a colonial 
printer-publisher whose acquittal in a libel trial became a foun- 
dation of press freedom.*^ The book by Cooper, manager of the 
Associated Press, was attacked in an article in the William and 
Mary Quarterly, The reviewer, Vincent Buranelli, accused Coo- 
per of abandoning history for romance and declared Anna 

42. Ross, 13. 

43. L.C. Grey, "McCormick of the Times," Current History 50 (1939): 27. 

44. Sara Lockwood Williams, "The Editor's Rib," Matrix 27 (1942): 13. 

45. Williams, 14. 

46. Kent Cooper, Anna Zenger, Mother of Freedom (New York: Farrar, Strauss, 
1946), 330-31. 

"Any woman in or 
interested in jour- 
nalism education, 
seel(ing guidance 
about her role 
from the literature, 
would need only a 
few hours to cover 
the topic thor- 

- Marzolf , Up from 
the Focinote. 


AJ/Winter 1990 

"What happens 
when 8,000 report- 
ers march out and 
8,000 girls march 
in? Masculine 
growls in the city 
room prove that 
the ancient preju- 
dicie stands— but 
on a weal(ening 
- Editor's note to 
Stanley Frank and 
Paul Sann, 
"Paper Dolls." 

Zenger merely "a courageous wife" who had kept her husband's 
newspaper going while he was in jail.^^ 

More objectionable than fiction was outright hostility. Preju- 
dices against women who replaced men on newspaper staffs 
during World War II pervaded an historical overview of women 
journalists titled "Paper Dolls" that first ran in the Saturday 
Evening Post in 1944. It was reprinted three years later in an 
anthology published by the University of Georgia Press.** The 
8,000 women hired when men went to war were accused of being 
"as irresponsible as an amorous monkey [with] absolutely no 
sense of the urgency of hot news."*' The article also abounded 
in anecdotal and inaccurate details on women journalists' lives 
from Anne Royall on. 

Serious work on the history of women journalists during the 
post-World War II period was glossed over through widespread 
use of a florid writing style that stressed the unconventional 
nature of exceptional women's lives. For example, Margaret 
Farrand Thorp's well-researched, but unfootnoted, article on 
Jane Swisshelm in 1949 was titled "Beware of Sister Jane." It 
stressed Swisshelm's "anger and impatience," and referred to 
her "useful venom" against injustice.^" 

When women journalists were accorded full-length biogra- 
phies, they were portrayed so much differently than men that it 
is difficult to place these books within a conventional historical 
framework. Perhaps this is less a criticism of their biographers 
than an observation on the dissimilarities of the lives of men and 
women journalists. Still it appeared that authors sought to 
maximize the differences for dramatic effect. 

For example, the moral conduct of Miriam Florence Leslie, 
better known as Mrs. Frank Leslie, was featured in a 1953 
biography. Purple Passage: The Life of Mrs. Frank Leslie. The 
author, Madeleine B. Stern, gave as much attention to her sub- 
ject's unconventional personal life as to her career. As she put it, 
"Hers had been a colorful career — a life studded with purple 
passages, the result of wearing a blue stocking on one leg while 
she sported a scarlet stocking on the other."^^ A biography of 
Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, who won fame as the advice 
columnist "Dorothy Dix," depicted her career, "like the woman 
herself," as stranger than fiction.^^ Albert Britt's 1960 biography 

47. Vincent Buranelli, "The Myth of Anna Zenger," William and Mary Quarterly, 
3d ser., 13 (1956): 168. 

48. Stanley Frank and Paul Sann, 'Taper Dolls," in More Post Biographies, ed. 
John E. Drewry (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1947), 206-17. 

49. Frank and Sann, 210. 

50. Margaret Farrand Thorp, "Beware of Sister Jane," in Female Persuasion: Six 
Strong-Minded Women (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949), 56, 59. 

51. Madeleines. Stern, Purpk Passaic- The Life of Mrs. Frank Leslie (Norman: Uni- 
versity of Oklahoma Press, 1953), 4. 

52. Harnett T. Kane with Ella Bentley Authur, Dear Dorothy Dix: The Story of a 
Compassionate Woman (New York: Doubleday, 1952), 9. 



of Ella Browning Scripps painted her as a devoted sister whose 
journalistic pursuits were secondary to family obligations and 
charitable activities.^^ 

Joumalisnn historians insisted on assuring readers that women 
journalists of note had retained their femininity in spite of 
professional success. For instance, a 1963 article by Henry Ladd 
Smith, a professor at the University of Washington, on Jane 
Cunningham Croly, the "Jennie June" referred to earlier, was 
titled "The Beauteous Jennie June: Pioneer Woman Journalist."^ 
Ladd insisted "she was a very feminine woman, which is more 
than could be said of some of her sister feminists."^^ After 
detailing her accomplishments, which included the founding of 
the women's club movement in the United States, he concluded, 
"In the light of history she may appear over-aggressive, a kind 
of frenetic 'activities girl.'"^* Since the article on Croly included 
description of her journalistic innovations, particularly syndi- 
cated fashion and advice columns, it can be placed in the devel- 
opmental category, but the obvious bias makes it a questionable 

Similarly a 1969 article on Anna Benjamin, a correspondent 
during the Spanish-American war, described her as "a slight 
New England miss."^^ It told readers, "Although Miss Benjamin 
could be as direct and decisive as a man, she was not mannish in 
looks," and concluded that she was "one of the first of a not very 
long line of notable women and foreign correspondents."^* A 
comparable view characterized a chapter on "Ladies on the 
Front Lines" in a 1968 book on the history of war correspondents 
that reported "nearly a dozen newshens are in Vietnam as of this 
writing."^' After comments on the appearances of past and pres- 
ent women war correspondents (one was described as "beaute- 
ous"), the author conceded, "Today's woman war correspon- 
dent is ready, willing and surprisingly able."^ 

An exception to this customary trivialization of woman was 
a three-part series on early women printers in the Boston Public 
Library Quarterly in 1958." The author, Ellen Oldham, stressed 
the forceful character of the eleven best-known colonial women 
printer-publishers who operated "before the emancipation of 

53. Albert Britt, Ella Browning Scripps (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 

54. HenryLaddSmith, "The Beauteous Jennie June: Pioneer Woman Journalist," 
Joumalism Quarterly 40 (1963): 169-74. 

55. Smith, 170. 

56. Smith, 174. 

57. Charles B. Brown, "The War Correspondence of Anna Benjamin," Journalism 
Quarterly A6 (1969): 522. 

58. Brown, 524, 530. 

59. M.L. Stein, Uruier Fire: The Story of American War Correspondents (New York: 
Julian Messner, 1968), 228. 

60. Stein, 229. 

61 . Ellen M. Oldham, "Early Women- Printers of America, " Boston Public Library 
Quarterly 10 (1958): 6-26; 78-92; 141-53. 

"Lest the men 
readers of this 
piece be disheart- 
ened, let it be said 
that there is still a 
place for the mas- 
culine sex in jour- 
nalism, but the 
competition is to- 
day much keener, 
largely on account 
of the school of 
journalism trained 
girls, than it once 

- John Drewry's 

preface to Frani( 

and Sann, 

"Paper Dolls." 


AJ/Winter 1990 

prestigious Gridi- 
ron Club, founded 
in 1908, continued 
its 'stag only' 
nfiembership pol- 
icy until November 
1974, when it 
voted to accept 
women members." 
- Marzolf , Up from 
the FtxAnote. 

women."" She treated them as a group faced "with the neces- 
sity of supporting themselves, and in most cases their chil- 
dren."" She took care not to set the women apart from men but 
to note that "many of the problems and much of the daily life of 
these women were shared by all printers of the time."" To that 
extent the work might be said to have been influenced by the 
consensus school but only if one broadens the term to include a 
consensus approach to relations between the sexes. This defies 
reason applied to a time when women lacked any political 


The outpouring of new scholarship on the history of women 
in journalism spurred by the women's movement often took the 
form of biography with a feminist flavor. Of the twenty-six 
articles on women from 1974 to 1983 in Journalism History alone, 
thirteen were biographical studies of individuals or groups. 
Along with other works published during this period, these 
studies treated women as serious individuals intent on journal- 
istic careers in spite of overwhelming prejudice against them. 
Among the Journalism History articles were overviews of the 
history of women journalists by Marion Marzolf, who incorpo- 
rated this material into her 1977 book. Up From the Footnote.^ Her 
purpose was to show that the woman reporter through the years 
had been "tough-minded, determined, aggressive, intelligent, 
independent and professional" as well as "compassionate, 
hopeful, intuitive and warmly human." According to Marzolf, 
"Professionalism has been her code, and by it she's won the 
respect and admiration of her colleagues and bosses."" 

The tone of articles in Journalism Quarterly showed a decided 
change. For example, a single issue in 1977 contained a record 
two articles on the history of women journalists. One was on a 
colonial editor, Elizabeth Timothy, and the other on Western 
suffrage newspapers and their editors.^^ Unlike articles of the 
previous decade, these works treated their subjects as capable 
individuals and focused on their careers, not their appearance. 

Similarly biographies of women journalists stressed their 
professional accomplishments. A 1972 biography of Anne 
Royall pointed out the importance of her work to American his- 
torians today." Great Women of the Press, which appeared in 1983, 

62. Oldham, 6. 

63. Oldham, 7. 

64. Oldham, 7. 

65. Marion Marzolf, "The Woman Journalist: Colonial Printer to City Desk," 
Journalism History 1 (1974-75, 1975): 100-6, 146; 24-27, 32. 

66. Marzolf, Up From the Footnote, vii. 

67. Ira L. Baker, "Elizabeth Timothy: America's First Woman Editor," and 
Sherilyn Cox Bennion, "The New Northwest and Woman's Exponent: Early 
Voices for Suffrage," Journalism Quarterly 54 (1977): 280-85, 286-92. 

68. Bessie R. James, Anne Royall's U.S.A. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univer- 
sity Press, 1972), viii. 



contained eighteen biographical sketches of significant journal- 
ists (including Anne Royall, Sarah Hale, and Jane Swisshelm) 
from the colonial to the Vietnam era. Its authors, Madelon 
Golden Schilpp and Sharon M. Murphy, offered the stories of 
"heroines" who, according to Schilpp and Murphy, remained in 
the shadows because of social restraints and neglect.^' The title 
appeared to have been chosen as a counterpart to the romantic 
"great men" theme of journalism history, although the sketches 
themselves emphasized journalistic achievement. 

Barbara Belford's Brilliant Bylines, published in 1986, com- 
bined biographical sketches of twenty-four notable newspaper- 
women with samples of their work but was not designed to 
"examine whether women journalists wrote any differently than 
men," Belford stated. Instead the anthology aimed to "show 
how the careers of women who became journalists . . . and what 
they wrote were shaped by both personal and economic neces- 
sity and by the demands of the newspaper editors of their era."^° 

In addition to biographical studies, the new scholarship 
embraced studies of women's publications from a feminist 
perspective. A three-part series in Journalism History traced the 
history of feminist periodicals, pointing out that this genre "is an 
important historical record of the status of women in the twen- 
tieth century, as well as a record of the goals and philosophies of 
the women's liberation movement."^^ It called attention to two 
competing definitions of feminism: the conservative, advocat- 
ing legal changes, and the liberation, proposing "total eradica- 
tion of sex roles."^^ The author, Anne Mather, included most 
publications aimed at women from The Lady's Magazine of 1792 
through the women's liberation movement of the early 1970s. 

Other scholars provided detailed analysis of individual 
publications. Lynne Masel-Walters wrote on two national suf- 
frage newspapers, the Woman's Journal, devoted to moral causes, 
and its more radical counterpart. The Revolution, both of which, 
Walters argued, made a significant impact on society.^ In her ex- 
haustive research Sherilyn Cox Bennion analyzed twelve suf- 
frage newspapers of the West. She concluded that they "pro- 
vided a forum for a cause which had time — and justice — on its 
side."^* Sandra Roff looked at "ladies' periodicals" of the eight- 

69. Madelon G. Schilpp and Sharon M. Murphy, Great Women of the Press (Car- 
bondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983). 

70. Barbara Belford, Brilliant Bylines (New York: Columbia University Press, 
1986), X. 

71. Aiuie Mather, "A History of Feminist Periodicals," Journalism History 1 
(1974-75): 82-85; (Winter 1984-85): 108-111; II (Spring 1985): 19-23, 31. 

72. Mather, 82-83. 

73. Lyime Masel-Walters, "A Burning Qoud by Day: The History and Content 
of the 'Women's Journal,'" Journalism History 3 (1977): 103-10; and "Their Rights 
and Nothing More: A History of The Revolution, 1868-70," Journalism Quarterly 
53 (1976): 242-51. 

74. Sherilyn Cox Bennion, "Woman Suffrage Papers of the West, 1869-1914," 
American Journalism 3 (1986): 140. 

"By and large . . . 
men in newspaper 
work have been 
uniformly friendly, 
sometinrws ex- 
tremely helpful, to 
their women co- 
workers, even to 
the point of chang- 
ing typewriter rib- 
bons for them— a 
simple task at 
which the female 
ingenuKy appears 
invariably to bog 

- Stanley Walker's 

foreword to Ishbel 

Ross, Ladies of 

the Press. 


AJ /Winter 1990 

"Suffrage papers 
articulated new 
values, suggested 
new dreams, and 
provided new per- 
spectives on 
women's experi- 
ences, in the effort 
to evolve a new 
definition of wom- 
anhood and to 
carve out a new 
social order." 
- Linda Steiner, 
"Finding Commu- 
nity in l^ineteenth 
Century Suffrage 

eenth and nineteenth centuries and found they were "an impor- 
tant outlet for feniinine expression and together probably had 
some influence on trends in manners, morals, and literature. "'^ 

In the last decade an increasing number of works explicitly or 
implicitly subscribed to a cultural approach. For example, in the 
first issue of American Journalism in 1983, Linda Steiner explored 
the term "community" in relation to suffrage periodicals. She 
concluded that it was in the suffrage press "that women evolved 
intellectually and emotionally satisfying communal models for 
acting, thinking, judging and feeling."^* In a 1986 article in 
Journalism History, Karen List explored women's roles in the new 
American nation through a study of early magazines. She asked 
why contradictions existed between what was printed and what 
apparently was addressed: "Why did the publications harp so 
continuously on women's domestic role if they did not fear some 
deviation from it?"^^ Another study looked at Vera Connolly, a 
Progressive journalist, from the standpoint of three intersections 
of American history: "The development of popular women's 
magazines, the legacy and direction of the Progressive move- 
ment after World War I, and the history of social feminism."^* 

The development interpretation continued to mark work by 
journalists who turned their attention to the recent history of 
women in the field. Kay Mills, an editorial writer for the Los 
Angeles Times, argued in her book, A Place in the News, that the 
growing number of women journalists was "one segment of a 
massive social evolution." According to Mills, "anecdotal evi- 
dence is compelling that the presence of more women assigning, 
writing, and editing the news has altered the definition of news, 
although not firmly enough."^' Historians, on the other hand, 
seek more than anecdotal evidence. 

The new scholarship primarily began with what Gerda 
Lerner, former president of the Organization of American His- 
torians, called "compensatory" history, or efforts to add women 
to the historical record. Although Lerner referred to women's 
history in general, her analysis also describes the outpouring of 
work in journalism history. Women were considered as notable 
figures worthy to be included in journalism history in terms of 
male achievements. In the last decade the new scholarship in 

75. Sandra Shoiock Roff, "A Feminine Expression: Ladies' Periodicals in the 
New York Historical Society Collection," Journalism History 9 (1982): 98. 

76. Linda Steiner, "Finding Community in Nineteenth Century Suffrage 
Periodicals," American Journalism 1 (1983): 12. 

77. Karen K. List, "Magazine Portrayals of Women's Role in the New Republic," 
Journalism History 13 (1986): 69. 

78. Mary Ellen Waller- Zuckerman, "Vera ConnoUy: Progressive Journalist," 
Journalism History 15 (1988): 80. 

79. Kay Mills, A Place in the News: From the Women's Pages to the Front Page (New 
York: Dodd, Mead, 1988), 7. 



journalism history, like that in women's history, has moved into 
a second stage. Lemer termed this "contribution" history. Ap- 
plied to journalism history, it has judged the contribution women 
journalists made to various social movements, particularly suf- 
frage. Each movement, however, has been considered in terms 
of standards set by men.*° 

It is encouraging that journalism historians have raised ques- 
tions about historiography as part of the new scholarship. The 
late Catherine L. Covert challenged three key male assumptions 
of journalism history — that journalism history is about winning, 
autonomy, and change. She called for history integrating 
women's, as well as men's, experience, by embracing "failure 
and despair as well as success and impact, and rhythms of 
repetition and return as well as innovation and change."*^ 

One of the most prolific and influential of the new scholars, 
Susan Henry, utilized a variety of approache.s — including con- 
tent analysis, economic and social studies, biographical inter- 
pretation, literary evidence, and public records — in her exten- 
sive work on colonial women printers.*^ Henry also has called 
for more attention to the private lives of both men and women 
journalists to understand their decisions.*^ In a Journalism Quar- 
terly article, she addressed the question of women's roles in 
newspaper families by a study of Eliza A. Otis, wife of Harrison 
Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.^ 

At the Ajmerican Journalism Historians Association conven- 
tion in 1987, Zena Beth McGlashan, a feminist historian, noted 
that "paradigms are in progress" for study of women journalists 
as scholars move beyond the "great women"approach.*^ Her 
own work illustrated her reconceptualization: her study of 
Rheta Childe Dorr documented the relationship between 
women's pages and advocacy journalism on behalf of women.*^ 
In another study, McGlashan argued that women were allowed 
greater flexibility than men to write about the Russian Revolu- 
tion of 1917 because they were not given as much credibility.*^ 

dynasties . . . can 
and should be bet- 
ter studied as fam- 
ily operations 

Many male pub- 
lishers in newspa- 
per familes had 
wives who did im- 
portant but less 
visible work as 
'joumalistic com- 

- Susan Henry, 

"'Dear Companion, 



80. Gerda Lemer, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (Oxford: 
Oxford Ur\iversity Press, 1979), 145-47. 

81. Catherine L. Covert, "Journalism History and Women's Experience: A 
Problem in Conceptual Change," Journalism History 8 (1981): 6. 

82. Susan Henry, "Colonial Woman Printer as Prototype: Toward a Model for 
the Study of Minorities," Journalism History 3 (1976): 20-24. 

83. Susan Henry, "Private Lives: An Added Dimension for Understanding 
Journalism Lives," Journalism History 6 (1979^0): 98-102. 

84. Susan Henry, "'Dear Companion, Ever-Ready Co- Worker: A Woman's Role 
in a Media Dynasty," Journalism Quarterly 64 (1987): 301-12. 

85. Zena Beth McGlashan, "The Great Woman Syndrome: A Paradigm in 
Process" (Paper delivered at convention of the American Journalism Historians 
Association, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1 October 1987). 

86. Zena Beth McGlashan, "Qub 'Ladies' and Working 'Girls': Rheta Childe 
Dorr and the New York Evening Post," Journalism History 8 (1981): 7-13. 

87. Zena Beth McGlashan, "Women Witness the Russian Revolution: Analyz- 
ing Ways of Seeing," Journalism History 12 (1985): 54-61. 

54 AJ/Winter 1990 

What is unmistakable is that many works on the history of 
women journalists definitely do not fit within the categories 
identified by Sloan, which are based on the male orientation of 
the field. As Henry theorized, the work to date on women's his- 
tory has been generally conservative but within an expanding 
feminist context. The trend appears to be in the direction of ex- 
ploring the tensions and ambiguities between women's experi- 
ences and journalism itself. If this is done in depth, a new, more 
truthful, and much more con\pelling journalism history will be 
produced. That journalism history, unlike what we have had to 
date, must encompass the history of minority women now 
almost ignored except for a few "notables" like Ida Wells- 

According to Lemer, what is needed in American history is a 
"synthesis — a history of the dialectic, the tensions between the 
two cultures, male and female."*' A start has been made in jour- 
nalism history, as in an article on Ida Tarbell that examined her 
inner conflict between journalism and marriage.^ The history of 
women in journalism no longer is replete with the biases, omis- 
sions, and distortions that characterized much earlier writing. 
But it has a vast way to go before a true synthesis is reached. 

88. Schilpp and Murphy, 121-32. 

89. Lemer, 159. 

90. Robert Stinson, "Ida M. Tarbell and the Ambiguities of Feminism," Pennsyl- 
vania Magazine of History and Biography 101 (1977): 217-39. 


By Jeremy Cohen. 
• Iowa State University Press 
•1989,164 pp. 
•$21.95. Cloth 

in the Supreme Court and 
the First Amendment will 
want to read this brief, co- 
gent book byjeremy Cohen. 
An assistant professor at 
Stanford University's De- 
partment of Communica- 
tion, Cohen uses Oliver 
Wendell Holmes's decision 
in Schenck v. the United 
States to illuminate the ju- 
dicial process and its con- 
nections with constitu- 
tional interpretations, spe- 
cifically of the First 
Amendment. The Schenck 
case, decided in 1919, 
marked the first time in 
the 130-year history of the 
Supreme Court that some- 
one asked it to use the 
First Amendment to pre- 
vent government prosecu- 
tion. Elizabeth Baer and 
Charles Schenck had been 
convicted of violating the 
1917 Espionage Act by dis- 
tributing circulars urging 
draft resistance. In up- 
holding their conviction. 
Justice Holmes enunciated 
the "clear-and-present- 
danger" doctrine and com- 
pared seditious speech to 
"falsely shouting fire in a 
theater and causing a 

Because of these memo- 
rable phrases, scholars 
both in and out of the legal 
community have seen 
Schenck as a Rrst Amend- 
ment case, the first of a 
line of cases setting the 
precedents on which our 
ideas about freedom of 
speech are based. How- 
ever, Cohen looks behind 
and around these words to 
conclude that the judicial 
process that produced the 
opinion had little to do 
with the First Amend- 
ment. He points out that 
Holmes concentrated in 
his opinion on answering 
questions about technical 
rules and statutory inter- 
pretations, giving little at- 
tention to First Amend- 
ment considerations and 
instead applying the logic 
of past nonspeech cases to 
his reasoning. Holmes 
asked not whether speech 
was protected by the First 
Amendment, but whether 
speech could be treated as 
an act, and he decided that 
the antidraft circular was 
in fact an action rather 
than speech and thus sub- 
ject to legislative control. 

Schenck, Cohen suggests, 
makes a better example of 
jurisprudence in 1919 than 
of Holmes's beliefs about 
freedom of speech. Holmes 
did not have to develop a 
comprehensive interpreta- 
tion of the Rrst Amend- 
ment in order to settle the 
case, and doing so would 
have been out of step with 
accepted judicial practices. 
Later, the precedent of 

Schenck returned to haunt 
Holmes, as he moved to- 
ward a more careful con- 
sideration of the First 
Amendment and became a 
dissenter in Supreme 
Court cases involving free- 
dom of speech. 

Along the way to his 
conclusion that those con- 
cerned with the First 
Amendment must under- 
stand the legal context 
within which it operates, 
as well as the theory and 
philosophy of the First 
Amendment itself, Cohen 
provides an excellent sum- 
mary of the im written 
"code of behavior" of the 
Supreme Court and a fas- 
cinating look at the ideas 
and philosophy of Oliver 
Wendell Holmes, a "driv- 
ing force" on the Supreme 
Court for almost three dec- 
ades. He also examines 
Schenck in detail, analyz- 
ing background, argu- 
ments, and decision. 

Appendices offer the text 
of the 1917 Espionage Act 
and its 1918 amendment, 
along with the text of 
Schenck, marred slightly by 
a typographical error that 
repeats two lines and con- 
fuses the sense of the first 
paragraph of the opinion. 
Notes are copious, but a 
bibliography would have 
made a valuable addition 
to the book. A foreword 
by Professor Everette E. 
Dennis, executive director 
of the Gannett Center for 
Media Studies, provides a 
nice preview. 

Implicit in Cohen's sense 


AJ/Winter 1990 

of Schenck as a weak foun- 
dation for a First Amend- 
ment philosophy is a re- 
minder of the recency and 
fragility of rights we often 
take for granted — another 
valuable contribution of 
this readable and well-ar- 
gued work. 

. . . Sherilyn Cox Bennion 
Humboldt State University 


Dale Maharidge and Michael 

• Pantheon Books 
•1989,262 pp. 

• $22.95, Cloth 

Alabama with Walker 
Evans in the summer of 
1936 to write about tenant 
farming. In Hale County 
they found three ragged 
sharecroppers looking for 
assistance. The farmers 
took them in, posed for 
Evans's photographs, and 
exposed their families to 
Agee's relentless scrutiny. 
Agee ostensibly tried to 
hide the sharecroppers' 
identity by parodj^ng 
their names. He also 
changed the names of 
nearby towns and land- 
marks but left enough 
clues so that anyone with a 
map and a copy of Let Us 
Now Praise Famous Men 
could practically knock on 
the tenants' doors. Agee 
was well aware that he 
was doing the unpardon- 
able, and the book is an in- 
dictment of just this sort of 

exploitive journalism. The 
true gothic horror for the 
reader is the unwitting 
complicity in the voyeur- 
ism of the authors. It is a 
disturbing work of endur- 
ing power. 

So now comes another 
writer and another pho- 
tographer to rustle what's 
left of the three families' 
privacy, and if you quailed 
at the original, you're 
going to quake at the se- 
quel. Agee and Evans 
don't always come off 
well. One of the sharecrop- 
pers' children, Clair Bell, 
says that either Agee or 
Evans — she doesn't re- 
member which — acciden- 
tally knocked her down 
and sent her into a coma. 
In Let Us Now Praise Fa- 
mous Men, Agee did not 
tell how the accident hap- 
pened, but he did predict 
that Clair Bell woiildn't 
live long because of it. 
Maharidge says Agee 
knew before the book was 
published that the child re- 
covered, but chose not to 
remove his poetic lamenta- 
tion from the text. If this is 
true, Agee's omission of 
the cause of the accident 
and his literary exploita- 
tion of it are pretty devas- 
tating. But Maharidge and 
Williamson tamper with 
their own facts by telling 
us, in an appendix on page 
258, that Clair Bell was 
"almost killed in an acci- 
dent caused by Agee." 
That's better copy, but 
they're more certain about 
who knocked down Clair 
Bell than Clair Bell is. 

Maharidge politely uses 
the names Agee invented, 
then tries to make up 
new names for scores of 

in-laws and offspring of 
the twenty-two original 
family members. Also in- 
cluded are neighbors, 
townsfolk, and even 
people with no connection 
to the original work. It's 
sometimes difficult to tell 
which names and places 
are invented as the authors 
widen the focus of the 
original project. And be- 
cause the real names of the 
original tenants have been 
published in the New York 
Times and elsewhere, the 
identity of practically ev- 
eryone in the new book by 
now must be the worst- 
kept secret in Alabama. 

Maharidge does a superb 
job of explaining the 
breakdown of the cotton 
economy, however, and 
Williamson's photographs 
are the equal of Evans's 
classic work. Their book is 
an excellent companion 
volume to Let Us Now 
Praise Famous Men, with 
reportorial and imagina- 
tive power of its own. To- 
gether the books become 
the two movements in a 
twentieth-century fugue. 

When Annie Mae 
Gudger, the Mona Lisa of 
the Depression, learns that 
her former landlord has 
been buried in a plot that 
will adjoin hers, she knows 
that only in death will they 
meet on equal terms. "Oh 
my," she tells her son. 
"Look who I'm gonna be 
buried by. He give me hell 
when I was living." As 
Agee foresaw, there was 
little ahead for most of the 
tenants but tragedy, yet he 
died tragically before any 
of the people he wrote 
about. "He was a mess," 
says Emma Woods, Annie 

Bcx)k Reviews 


Mae's sister. "My gcx)d- 
ness, I could turn around 
and write a book on him." 

. . . Paul Ashdown 
University of Tennessee 


By Dee Garrison. 

• Temple University Press 

• 1989, 400 pp. 

• $27.95, Cloth 


Edited by Charlotte Nekola 
and Paula Rabinowitz, with a 
foreword by Toni Morrison. 

• Feminist Press 
•1987,368 pp. 

•$29.95, Cloth; $12.95, Paper 

THIS PAIR OF books is 
highly recommended. To- 
gether, they illuminate the 
history of American radi- 
cal women writers — a his- 
tory that has often been 

Undeservedly, because it 
is a vitcd and significant 
history. For instance, Mary 
Heaton Vorse (1874-1966) 
was "the foremost pioneer 
of labor journalism in the 
United States," as Dee 
Garrison, a history profes- 
sor at Rutgers University, 
demonstrates convincingly 
in this splendid biography. 
Vorse was prominent in 
the women's imiversal suf- 
frage movement, and she 
devoted her life to the 
causes of feminism, liber- 

tarian socialism, and 
world peace. She rebelled 
against her wealthy New 
England family's restric- 
tive traditions at a young 
age, moving to Greenwich 
Village in the early 1900s. 
There Vorse was an editor 
for the A4flsses. She be- 
came a charter member of 
the Provincetown Players, 
a member of the Liberal 
Club and the Heterodoxy 
Club — ^intimately part of 
the Left's political, cul- 
tural, and feminist avant- 
garde. Her close friends 
included Susan Glaspell 
and George "Jig" Cram 
Cook, Max Eastman, Neith 
Boyce and Hutchins 
Hapgood, John Dos Passes, 
Lincoln Steffens, and 
Elizabeth Gurley Rynn. 

Vorse' s literary output 
included sixteen books, 
two plays, and hundreds 
of articles and short stories 
in major journals, newspa- 
pers, and magazines. 
Twice widowed, Vorse 
wrote immensely popular 
women's fiction for maga- 
zines to support herself 
and her three children. 
Dashing off what she 
called "lolljrpops" to pay 
her bills, she could then 
devote herself to the inci- 
sive labor and war report- 
ing that drove her. Yet her 
popular fiction was of high 
quality, frequently depart- 
ing from formula to ex- 
plore contemporary 
women's issues and con- 

Vorse covered Lenin's 
Moscow during the Bol- 
shevik Revolution, and she 
reported from Hitler's 
Germany during the rise 
of the Nazis. She was there 
at the Triangle Shirtwaist 

Company fire, the Law- 
rence textile strike, the 
Great Steel Strike of 1919, 
and the uprisings in Gas- 
tonia. North Carolina, and 
Bloody Harlan County in 
Kentucky. She reported 
regularly on the CIO dur- 
ing the 1930s. Unlike her 
labor journalist contempo- 
raries, Vorse often took 
part in the very strikes she 
covered. Garrison writes 
that "[Vorse's] inside 
knowledge of tmion strat- 
egy, combined with her 
fervent commitment to ac- 
curate reporting, brought 
uncommon depth and 
feeling to her work," help- 
ing to assure publication 
in major mainstream 
magazines such as 
Harper's, Scribner's, and the 
Atlantic that were usually 
closed to leftist writers. 

Vorse's audiences were 
several, also including in- 
tellectuals and reformers 
in the Masses, Nation, and 
New Republic, and workers 
in her innumerable pieces 
for union newspapers, 
newsletters, and broad- 
sides for the union press. 
During World War II, ac- 
cording to Garrison, Vorse 
may have been the oldest 
official American war cor- 
respondent. In the 1950s 
she lived in semi-retire- 
ment in Provincetown, still 
writing. Her last major 
story was an expose of 
crime in waterfront un- 
ions, published in Harper's 
in 1952, when she was 78. 
When she was 82, the FBI 
finally stopped adding to 
its substantial file on her. 
At 91, Vorse remained a 
crusader, supporting a 
young Provincetown min- 
ister who was one of the 


AJ /Winter 1990 

first to march against the 
Vietnam War. 

Researching and vyo-iting 
this, the first fijU-length bi- 
ography of Vorse's Ufe, 
must have been a fascinat- 
ing, challenging task. As 
Garrison recounts, Vorse 
wrote, "You must under- 
stand, that when I was 
very yovmg. Life said to 
me, 'Here are two ways — 
a world rimning to mighty 
cities, ftill of the spectacle 
of bloody adventure, and 
here is home and children. 
Which will you take, the 
adventurous life, or a quiet 
life?' 1 will take both, I 

Her biographer leaves no 
doubt that Mary Heaton 
Vorse is "one of the most 
compelling and represen- 
tative figures in the history 
of American radicalism." 
Garrison attributes the 
slighting of Vorse in the 
history of American radi- 
calism in part to "the effect 
upon scholarship of sex- 
ism and the Cold War." 
Vorse, after all, devoted 
fifty-four years of her life 
to activism for libertarian 
socialism, feminism, and 
world peace. Garrison 
makes a convincing argu- 
ment that "this union of 
ideas was far too radical 
for most of her contempo- 
raries to consider — an- 
other reason for the schol- 
arly inattention paid her 

So this full-length biogra- 
phy is particularly wel- 
come. Its quality is uncom- 
monly high. Writing with 
warmth, grace, and wit. 
Garrison provides plenty 
of personal details while 
always interpreting 
Vorse's life within a richly 

detailed context of the his- 
tory of American radical- 
ism. The result is an inti- 
mate exploration of Mary 
Heaton Vorse enriched by 
an understanding of the 
culture and politics of her 
time. Garrison's research 
is careful and wide-rang- 
ing. She utilized more than 
a score of far-flung archi- 
val collections, including 
Vorse's papers at Wayne 
State University, the Emily 
Balch Papers at the 
Swarthmore College Peace 
Collection, the John Dos 
Passos Papers at the Uni- 
versity of Virginia, the 
Josephine Herbst Papers 
and Edmund Wilson Pa- 
pers at Yale University, 
and the American Relief 
Administration Papers at 
the Hoover Institution on 
War, Revolution and Peace 
Archives at Stanford Uni- 
versity. She also consulted 
FBI case files on Vorse, 
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 
and Robert Minor, and 
personally interviewed 
about fifty of Vorse's rela- 
tives, friends, and col- 

Mary Heaton Vorse is a 
model of biographical 
scholarship. Well-re- 
searched and written, it is 
interpretive without exces- 
sive psychologizing, pro- 
viding a detailed discus- 
sion of the background 
culture and politics. Its im- 
peccable scholarship estab- 
lishes it as an important 
book for historians, but it 
is so compellingly written 
that it will likely command 
a wide popular audience 
as well. Most important 
for journalism historians, it 
uncovers the history of a 
very significant labor jour- 

nalist. This biography 
makes plain that any dis- 
cussion of the history of 
American radical journal- 
ism must include Mary 
Heaton Vorse. 

Nekola and Rabinowitz's 
Writing Red: An Anthology 
of American Women Writers, 
1930-1940 also makes its 
major contribution in un- 
covering radical history — 
in this case, the history of a 
large group of radical 
women writers. As Paula 
Rabinowitz, an English 
professor at the University 
of Minnesota and pub- 
lished poet, writes in the 
thoughtful introduction, 
"Feminist attempts to re- 
cover lost women writers 
have, for the most part, ig- 
nored the 1930s as a fertile 
era of women's literary 
production. The prevailing 
depiction of the rise, fall, 
and subsequent rise of 
waves of feminist activity 
places the 1930s within the 
great hiatus between suf- 
frage and the publication 
of Betty Friedan's The 
Feminine Mysticjue in 1963." 

Yet the 1930s were any- 
thing but a hiatus, as this 
anthology shows. It in- 
cludes short biographical 
sketches and representa- 
tive works from nearly 
fifty women, including fic- 
tion writers, poets, and 
journalists. At least half 
were working-class white 
and black women. Some 
are comparatively well 
known, such as Meridel 
LeSueur (born 1900), Agnes 
Smedley (1892-1950), Anna 
Louise Strong (1885-1970), 
Tillie Olsen (born 1913), 
Dorothy Day (1897-1980), 
Josephine Herbst (1892- 
1969), and Mary Heaton 

Book Reviews 


Verse (1874-1%6). Others 
have truly been rescued 
from oblivion — an obliv- 
ion not attributable to their 
writing ability or achieve- 
ments, but more likely to 
their gender and politics. 
The latter group includes 
Marita Bonner (1899-1971), 
Ella Winter (1898-1980), 
Joy Davidman, and Mary 

Journalism historians 
will be particularly inter- 
ested in part 3, "Report- 
age, Theory, and Analy- 
sis," which features the 
work of twenty journalists, 
including Herbst, Smedley, 
Strong, Olsen, Vorse, Day, 
LeSueur, Ella Ford, Ruth 
Gruber, and Vivian Dahl. 
Subjects range from peas- 
ants in wartime China 
(Smedley), the plight of 
women cotton sharecrop- 
pers (Elaine Ellis), and 
capitalism's exploitation of 
women (Grace Hutchins), 
to a garment workers' 
strike (Mary Guimes Lear) 
and New York's Lower 
East Side poor (Day). 

Charlotte Nekola's intro- 
ductory essay to this sec- 
tion gives a detailed sum- 
mary of the history of De- 
pression-era women jour- 
nalists. As Nekola, a pub- 
lished poet who holds a 
Ph.D. in English from the 
University of Michigan, 
observes, "Women report- 
ers in the 1930s rode mules 
through revolutionary 
Cuba, shared trenches 
with troops in the Spanish 
Civil War, and interviewed 
sea captains in the Soviet 
Arctic. Within the United 
States, their work ranged 
from first-person accounts 
of strikes, to a discussion of 
the relationship between 

black women and the steel 
industry, to accounts of 
work conditions in mills 
and department stores, to 
an analysis of the politics 
of lynching in the South. 
The depth and range of 
their work far exceeds the 
parameters of . . . the usual 
range of women's work in 
journalism in the first dec- 
ade of the twentieth cen- 
tury." "Yet," Nekola notes, 
"the history of radical 
women journalists is al- 
most totally absent from 
accounts of documentary 
of that era and from recent 
accounts of women in 
journalism." In making 
this point, she provides a 
most useful review of the 
literature in this area. 

Writing Red does much to 
correct the historical rec- 
ord. As the novelist Toni 
Morrison writes in a brief 
foreword, this anthology 
helps us "see clearly that 
the '1930s radicalism [that] 
appears to be a masculine 
preserve' is in fact peopled 
with questioning, caring, 
socially committed women 
writers." Historians of the 
American left and of 
American radical journal- 
ism will find Writing Red 
absorbing and informa- 

. . . Nancy Roberts 
University of Minnesota 


By Russell Baker. 
• William Morrow & Co. 
•1989,352 pp. 
•$19.95, Cloth 

like Dan the Newsboy rose 

to fame and fortune by 
Pluck and Luck. They had 
widowed mothers, they 
were hard-working and 
courageous, and they were 
on the spot to save finan- 
ciers' daughters from the 
hooves of runaway horses 
and be rewarded with 
good jobs. Russell Baker 
too, had a widowed 
mother, and in The Good 
Times he starts out just like 
Dan, peddling newspa- 
pers. But he rose rapidly to 
fame and at least minor 
fortune (his latest book 
will help) without saving 
any financiers' daughters. 

How did he do it? Some 
people, apparently search- 
ing for something negative 
to say, have chided the au- 
thor for working an aw- 
shucks modesty ploy 
about his success. But they 
seem to have overlooked a 
point that Baker makes 
quite clearly: he was born 
with a family talent for 
words, what he calls the 
"word gene." As anyone 
can see from the quality of 
this wonderful sequel to 
Growing Up (1982), he 
knows how to use it. 

While consistently ab- 
sorbing and amusing. The 
Good Times has much more 
seriousness than meets the 
browsing eye. There is 
scorn in the portrait of the 
self-aggrandizing loud- 
mouth who was Baker's 
executive editor at the 
Baltimore Sun and in the 
depiction of the lordly atti- 
tude of the Sunpapers own- 
ers toward their editorial 
staff. There is equally in- 
tense admiration for city 
editor Ed Young and espe- 
cially for Ellis Baker III (no 
kin), a Baltimore blueblood 


AJ/Winter 1990 

who sacrificed a splendid 
hiture as an editor in order 
to organize for the Ameri- 
can Newspaper Guild. 
Most of the time, however. 
Baker presents his many 
journalistic colleagues 
without either anger or 
adulation, but with de- 
tachment and Dickensian 
relish. For the many who 
passed some years in news 
work in Baltimore in the 
first decade after World 
War II, as did this re- 
viewer, it will be a delight 
to revisit the establishment 
on Calvert Street, to see 
again the legendary man- 
aging editor Buck 
Dorsey — he of the un- 
blinking stare — or the 
swashbuckling Patrick 
Skene Catling — he who 
once slugged a printer in a 
dispute over a typographi- 
cal error in one of his sto- 
ries. There are many other 
portraits of newspaper 
people met along other 
paths on Baker's upward 
journey: Turner (Catfish) 
Catledge, the New York 
Times' managing editor; 
James Reston, Washington 
correspondent and colum- 
nist; the brilliant and bibu- 
lous Italian correspondent 
Ruggiero Orlando, who 
actually could tell one vin- 
tage year of the same wine 
from another without a 

The Good Times could also 
serve as a journalism text- 
book. It hilariously — and 
instructively — presents the 
pitfalls of police reporting, 
comments extensively on 
the insiders' cliches of 
journalism, and gives a de- 
tailed picture of the opera- 
tions of a modem daily, 
complete with the daily 

despairs and resilient 
hopes of its staff. Baker's 
description of the limita- 
tions of White House re- 
porting should be read by 
everybody who wants to 
know how the presidential 
staff manages the news — 
conducting a charade of 
announcing inconsequen- 
tial events while keeping 
the important stuff under 
wraps. Speaking of Jim 
Hagerty, Eisenhower's 
very competent press sec- 
retary. Baker writes: "We 
stood around his desk 
while a secretary passed 
out mimeographed an- 
noimcements . . . presidential 
statements on the impor- 
tance of National Ruta- 
baga Week, transcripts 
of . . . welcoming remarks 
to the visiting prime min- 
ister of Zippity Zap. . . . We 
traded banter, asked a few 
cheeky questions to which 
we didn't expect answers, 
and a few serious ones, to 
which Jim said, 'No com- 
ment,' or I'll check that 
out and get back to you.'" 
Covering the Senate for 
the New York Times, Baker 
got out of the White House 
reporters' "cage" and into 
the bewildering and dan- 
gerous world where sena- 
tors alternately avoided re- 
porters and courted them, 
seeking to trade informa- 
tion for favorable public- 
ity. The reporters, in turn, 
were constantly in danger 
of being lured into mem- 
bership in the insiders' 
club, where publishing 
some facts would be re- 
garded as disloyalty. 
Baker's description of en- 
counters with the flesh- 
pressing, arm-twisting 
Lyndon Johnson is one of 

the many fascinating sec- 
tions of a book that, like 
most of Baker's writing, is 
deceptively casual but ulti- 
mately rather serious. 

The number of reminis- 
censes by journalists on 
"how I scooped the world" 
is very high. Baker prefers 
to tell us how he often 
failed to scoop the world. 
Instead, he merely gives us 
a fascinating, amusing, 
and sometimes poignant 
memoir that also happens 
to be a first<lass set of les- 
sons on journalism ethics 
and a valuable chapter of 
journalism history. 

. . . Edward A. Nicker son 
University of Delaware 


By Hugh Carter Donahue. 
• MIT Press 
•1989,240 pp. 
•$19.95, Cloth 

plain the evolution of the 
concepts of equal time and 
fairness in American 
broadcasting. Hugh Carter 
Donahue argues that re- 
strictions imposed on 
broadcasters were never 
justified and the public has 
suffered greatly as a result. 
He begins by explaining 
how, starting in the late 
1920s, political figures be- 
gan to assess the uses of 
radio. He traces the na- 
tional struggle over policy 
issues related to radio's 
utilization in the political 
arena. The author has a 

Book Reviews 


distinct point of view and 
presents his free speech 
inqiiiry in this context, 
pointing out that Con- 
gress, the cottrts, and the 
FCC allowed the rights of 
broadcast listeners and 
viewers to be eroded, along 
with professional stan- 

Donahue's first chapter 
offers a perspective on the 
start of the licensing sys- 
tem in 1927, leading to the 
emergence of equal time as 
the dominant model, bol- 
stered by support from 
politicians eager to mount 
radio campaigns. He dis- 
cusses the ideological and 
sectional politics that came 
into play, and the role of 
Herbert Hoover as com- 
merce secretary and archi- 
tect of American broadcast 
regulation. Donahue 
points to themes presented 
and reinforced by Hoover 
as part of the national ra- 
dio conferences, 1922-25: 
public interest, listener 
sovereignty, spectrum 
scarcity — ^principles later 
given regulatory clout. The 
emergence and success of 
Sen. Clarence C. Dill and 
his work on the creation of 
Section 315 of the Commu- 
nications Act of 1934 of- 
fered legislation that in- 
sured access and provided 
broadcaster discretion in 
political programming. 
According to Donahue, 
proponents of nationaliza- 
tion within Franklin 
Roosevelt's administration 
had been manipulated to 
get maximum exposure for 
programs of the New Deal. 

Chapter 2 focuses on 
Roosevelt's time in office 
and the challenges he 
brought to bear on broad- 

cast licensees. At first, they 
feared he might nationalize 
broadcasting to help bring 
the country out of the De- 
pression. After that fear 
subsided, Roosevelt's ef- 
forts to control the FCC as 
a means of keeping broad- 
casters compliant are ex- 
plored as well as the after- 
math — an agenda setting 
the stage for the Fairness 
Doctrine. Beyond this na- 
tional agenda, Donahue 
does a credible job of plac- 
ing broadcasting's regional 
disputes in a broader con- 
text. For example, in chap- 
ter 3, 'The Articulation of 
Fairness," he looks at a 
precedent-setting Boston 
case as a lead into the his- 
toric Mayflower decision. 
He then integrates this ma- 
terial with information on 
network positions, citing 
William S. Paley and 
William L. Shirer. Shirer 
complained that CBS's per- 
formance during this pe- 
riod deprived the public of 
insight into the Nazi 
movement abroad and the 
rise of Adolph Hitler. 
Similarly, Donahue argues 
that the FCC, in rejecting 
advice that a fairness pol- 
icy would be impossible to 
enforce, entered a legal 
and regulatory swamp 
that inhibited political uses 
of broadcasting from reach- 
ing their fullest potential. 
The sections that follow 
focus on Lar Daly's Chi- 
cago challenge and the 
FCC decision in that case, 
as well as the subsequent 
authorization by Congress 
to exempt from equal time 
"bona fide" news events, 
interviews, and incidental 
and on-the-spot news cov- 
erage. Of course. Con- 

gress's suspension of equal 
time for the "Great De- 
bates" of 1960 is discussed, 
as well as each of three de- 
cisions a decade later in- 
volving citizen participa- 
tion in license renewals, 
the stripping of a license, 
and one upholding the 
constitutionality of the 
Fairness Doctrine. Discus- 
sion of broadcast debate 
issues and policy deci- 
sions, involvement by the 
League of Women Voters, 
press performance and is- 
sues related to technologi- 
cally driven changes in 
First Amendment law, the 
rise and fall of television 
documentaries, and the 
role of political advertising 
constitute most of the re- 
mainder of the book, along 
with a chronology of inno- 
vations in political com- 

In the concluding chap- 
ters, Donahue presents the 
view that ownership of the 
First Amendment among 
broadcasters, politicians, 
and interest groups is still 
up for grabs. He also notes 
that the courts and Con- 
gress have not yet decided, 
and legal experts still dis- 
agree, on the nature of the 
problem and the extent of 
its importance. Through- 
out, Donahue takes every 
opportunity to denigrate 
the Fairness Doctrine, call- 
ing it "an illusory mecha- 
nism for interest groups to 
influence public opinion" 
(180). He argues that no 
law should restrict broad- 
casters' freedom of expres- 
sion and concludes with 
an evaluation of the 1988 
candidate debates and 
presidential election. He 
notes the similarity of 


AJ/Winter 1990 

Michael Dukakis's to Adlai 
Stevenson's position 
thirty-six years earlier — 
each fought a losing battle 
against a better-known Re- 
publican challenger who 
succeeded in caricaturing 
the liberal views of his op- 
ponent. He points out how 
George Bush's confronta- 
tion with Dan Rather, 
which is pictured on the 
dust cover of the book, 
had the effect of elevating 
the candidate over the 
Iran-Contra issue. 

Donahue provides a 
carefully researched ac- 
count of broadcast per- 
formance using a wide 
range of source material. 
We frequently hear that 
scholarship in journalism 
history is executed in a 
vacuum or isolated con- 
text. That is not the case 
here. Donahue's back- 
ground as a television 
news writer and producer 
and documentary film- 
maker comes into play in 
his assessment of televi- 
sion's performance. For 
example, at the end of the 
chapter on documentaries, 
he points out how both 
broadcast journalists and 
politicians tend to gain 
professionally from the 
status quo in public affairs 
reporting. He offers the 
view that the Fairness 
Doctrine inhibited docu- 
mentaries because of parti- 
san efforts to impose ideo- 
logical agendas on broad- 
casters. He also laments 
the decline of what he 
terms "public intellectu- 
als" such as Walter 
Lippmann and Robert 
Hutchins, because broad- 
cast journalists are both ill- 
suited and reluctant to of- 

fer explanations of events. 
This is, therefore, a pro- 
vocative and worthwhile 
book. It is thoroughly re- 
searched and well-written, 
and offers a viewpoint that 
is frequently overlooked. 

. . . Michael D. Murray 
Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis 


By Louise A. Mayo. 

• Fairleigh Dickinson Univer- 
sity Press 

•1988,224 pp. 

• $30, Cloth 

A. Mayo has divided her 
splendid book. The Am- 
bivalent Image: Nineteenth- 
Century America's Percep- 
tion of the Jew, into such 
chapters as "The Religious 
Image," "Political and 
Ideological Images," and 
"Eastern European Jews," 
as well as one devoted 
solely to magazine and 
newspaper coverage of at- 
titudes toward Jews, the 
media are central through- 
out the book because she 
has drawn her examples 
and conclusions from a 
vast array of mass-circula- 
tion and specialized publi- 

Anyone who has ever 
done original source re- 
search will recognize this 
as a work made cogent by 
the author's restraint. In 
her search through what 
surely amounted to him- 
dreds of thousands of 

printed pages. Mayo must 
have collected gem upon 
quotable gem. And yet, 
like a careful defense attor- 
ney gathering just those 
precedents vital to the case 
but not all the rulings. 
Mayo is liberal with her 
quotes, but not redundant. 
Her point — ^that through- 
out out the nineteenth cen- 
tury the image of Jew was 
consistent only in its in- 
consistency — is repeated 
time and again but in such 
insightful and often enter- 
taining ways that the 
reader is carried along, 
easily absorbed but never 
bored. Through references 
to religious periodicals, vi- 
tally important to Ameri- 
can culture particularly in 
the first two-thirds of the 
century, to novels and 
plays, as well as to news 
stories and magazine ar- 
ticles. Mayo describes the 
"profound dichotomy" 
that marked the depiction 
of Jews, ranging from "the 
high-minded German phi- 
lanthropist" to the "wild- 
eyed Russian anarchist, 
the shrewd, driving busi- 
nessman, the meek tailor," 
and on to images as di- 
verse as "the chosen 
people and the Christ kill- 

Coverage of Jews was 
sporadic, indicating a 
"lack of any real deep ten- 
sions" between the Jewish 
community and the 
middle- and upper-class 
Christians who dominated 
northern urban society. 
But in the 1880s, when the 
flood of poor. Eastern Eu- 
ropean immigrants began, 
"sympathy struggled with 
distaste on the pages of 
newspapers and maga- 

Book Reviews 


zines." Readers who rec- 
ognize the schisms inher- 
ent in any group's hierar- 
chical structure will not be 
surprised at her conclu- 
sion that of all the newspa- 
pers studied, the New York 
Times, owned by the con- 
servative, upwardly mo- 
bile Adolph Ochs, a Jew 
married to a rabbi's 
daughter, was the most 
"hostile and anxious to ex- 
clude (immigrant) Jews as 

Mayo avoids speculating 
as to why certain publica- 
tions indulged in stere- 
otyping and racism, but 
freely notes changes in in- 
dividual journalists when 
readily discernible in their 
works. Jacob Riis, for ex- 
ample, was ambivalent 
about Jews and repeated 
stereotyped images in his 
1890 milestone. How the 
Other Half Lives, but by 
1898, in Out of Mulberry 
Street, had become "an en- 
ergetic propagandist" for 
the Jewish immigrants. 
And, giving the press 
credit. Mayo concludes 
that newspapers and 
magazines were "far more 
responsive" to changes in 
the Jewish position in 
American society than 
were the literary, theatri- 
cal, and religious outlets. 

The author's cool, even- 
handed presentation of her 
research resembles ideal 
reporting: Mayo does not 
become an advocate. And 
by not passing judgment — 
which would have been 
very easy given the com- 
monness of blatantly anti- 
Semitic stereotyping such 
as the Shylock image — 
Mayo challenges us with 
unstated questions. Did 

the ambivalence of the 
nineteenth-century media 
toward American Jews 
contribute to the ambiva- 
lence of Americans when 
the Nazi death camps and 
pogroms were being re- 
ported in the U.S. mass cir- 
culation press both before 
and during World War II? 
And, looking ahead to the 
twenty-first century, will 
scholars then examine the 
mass media of this century 
to find that the communi- 
cation and entertainment 
industries treated today's 
urban enclaves of Koreans, 
Vietnamese, and Cambo- 
dians, among others, as 
curiosities, only infre- 
quently deserving of cov- 
erage and /or fair repre- 

. . . Zewfl Beth McGlashan 
University of North Dakota 


By Sig Mickelson. 

• Praeger 
•1989,200 pp. 

• $39.95, Cloth;$14.95, Paper 

written a memoir of his 
work in the 1950s that ei- 
ther he, his literary agent, 
or his publisher insisted 
on labeling a history of TV 
and politics from 1948 to 
1988. Perhaps Mickelson 
can be excused for this 
false packaging. He was 
the Natty Bumppo of CBS 
TV news producers. At a 
time when the best talent 

at CBS news was bovmd by 
contract to radio work, 
Mickelson, recently hired 
from WCCO in Minneapo- 
lis-St. Paul, supervised the 
telecasting of the signing 
of the peace treaty with 
Japan in 1951. Along the 
way, he gave another ob- 
scure newcomer to CBS, 
Walter Cronkite, his first 
big on-camera assignment. 
On behalf of all of the net- 
works, Mickelson subse- 
quently led negotiations 
with the national parties in 
arranging for the airing of 
the 1952 conventions. He 
was involved in the tele- 
vising of the 1956 and 1%0 
gatherings as well as of the 
first TV presidential debate 
of 1960. In 1%4, having left 
CBS, he oversaw TV con- 
vention arrangements for 
the Republican National 

These experiences con- 
stantly inform From 
Whistle Stop to Sound Bite. 
Mickelson rightly reminds 
readers, some of whom 
take the slickly produced 
newscasts of the last two 
decades for granted, of the 
initial difficulties of pro- 
ducing news programs. 
In airing the 1952 and 1956 
conventions, he notes, it 
took some courage to cut 
away from convention 
speakers in favor of show- 
ing something deemed 
more newsworthy. Con- 
vention managers had, af- 
ter all, expected gavel-to- 
gavel coverage. And politi- 
cians of every type recog- 
nized that TV made new 
demands on them, and 
tried to adjust. For the 
1952 Democratic conclave, 
even House Speaker Sam 
Rayburn, who detested the 


AJ/Winter 1990 

newest medium, wore 

Television did not, 
Mickelson frequently ac- 
knowledges, improve the 
nation's political culture, 
much as he and others had 
hoped it would. "Rather 
than expose charlatans 
through an X-ray eye," he 
writes, "television may 
have created a new soap- 
box for them. There is little 
evidence that voters are 
better informed. Judging 
by campaign tactics, the 
opposite may be true" (17). 

Overall, Mickelson makes 
few of the wild claims for 
television that frequently 
can be foimd in such auto- 
biographies. Compared to 
most industry veterans, 
Mickelson is familiar with 
a few scholarly studies of 
television and its effects. 
He does, in passing (116), 
exaggerate the impact of 
Edward R. Murrow's See It 
Now investigation of Sen. 
Joseph R. McCarthy. Yet 
that is an assertion that 
virtually no one who 
worked at CBS News or 
who admired Murrow 
deeply seems capable of 

There are two far more 
serious problems with 
Mickelson' s work. The 
first is hardly its fault. Vir- 
tually every book of this 
sort is the product of a 
CBS veteran (and Murrow 
the only broadcast journal- 
ist apparently worthy of a 
biography). NBC, which 
arguably had the more in- 
novative and, certainly by 
the late 1950s, more popu- 
lar news division, contin- 
ues to be ignored in the 
popular histories of the 
fifth estate. Far more up- 

setting is the warmed-over 
quality to From Whistle 
Stop to Sound Bite. Mickel- 
son told many of the same 
stories in his 1972 history 
of TV news. The Electronic 
Mirror. Although special- 
ists in the history of televi- 
sion journalism will find a 
few new anecdotes, most 
journalism historians are 
advised to save their 
money by purchasing the 
latter volume in a used 
book store. 

. . . James L. Baughman 
University of Wisconsin 


Compiled by Nancy Signorielli 
and George Gerbner. 

• Greenwood Press 
•1988,264 pp. 

• $39.95, Cloth 

ISM IN THE 1980S: A 

By Edward F. Mickolus, Todd 

Sandler, and Jean M. 


Volume 1,1980-83. 

• Iowa State University Press 
•1989,568 pp. 

• $54.95, Cloth 
Volume 2, 1984-87. 

• Iowa State University Press 
•1989,696 pp. 

• $64.95, Cloth 

increasing development of 
communications scholar- 
ship has been the growth 

in and specialization of 
communications bibliogra- 
phies published in recent 
years. These three publica- 
tions add to that literature 
by providing researchers 
significant new sources of 
literature review and in- 
formation on the issue of 
media coverage of terror- 
ism and, more generally, 
portrayals of violence. 

Nancy Signorielli and 
George Gerbner provide 
an exceptionally useful 
compilation of thousands 
of journal articles, research 
reports, and books devoted 
to issues of media portray- 
als of terrorism and vio- 
lence and their effects. This 
listing of materials is a 
valuable and useful addi- 
tion to the literature and 
the backbone of the publi- 

The bibliography's anno- 
tations are typically about 
one hundred words long, 
but mixed in depth and in- 
dication of each publica- 
tion's findings. Given the 
nature and varying quality 
of research on the media 
and violence, however, 
this is not surprising. Al- 
though entries are not 
equally well-reviewed, the 
annotations more than 
adequately provide the 
reader with an overview 
of the approaches, issues, 
and general findings of 
each study. These will be 
quite useful to scholars 
culling the literature in 
search of specific types of 
studies to read and review. 

The bibliography ap- 
proaches the literature by 
dividing studies into those 
that focus on media con- 
tent and those that focus 
on violent effects of media 

Book Reviews 


content. Subdivisions ex- 
plore literature on cover- 
age of crime and media, 
civil disorders, and terror- 
ism; effects of exposure to 
and perception of violence 
in media; the influence of 
media content on individ- 
ual aggression; pornogra- 
phy and its relationship to 
violence; emd cultivation 
studies. Studies from a va- 
riety of nations are in- 
cluded, so the bibliogra- 
phy provides a broad and 
less culturally biased look 
at the topic. 

The chronologies of ter- 
rorist events produced by 
Edward Mickolus, Todd 
Sandler, and Jean Murdock 
make readily available to 
researchers on terrorism 
and media two of the best 
data sources on individual 
terrorist acts worldwide. 
They are drawn from the 
ITERATE database, which 
contains information on 
acts of terrorism, divided 
to accoimt for 125 variables, 
including communications 
of terrorist groups during 
events. Although the infor- 
mation is available in data 
files for computer use, 
publication of the narra- 
tive description of events 
is useful in a variety of 
types of research on com- 
munication and terrorism 
or helps when computer- 
ized analysis of the entire 
variable list is impossible 
or unnecessary. 

Although incidents are 
impressively documented 
and described, this chro- 
nology suffers from the 
major weakness of all 
event-based data sources: 
it is incomplete and biased 
because of its information 
sources. The database was 

built primarily using re- 
ports from the Associated 
Press, United Press Inter- 
national, Reuters, major 
newspapers, and broad- 
cast networks. 

International communi- 
cations scholars have well 
documented the blackout 
of coverage from much of 
the less-developed world 
in these media, and thus 
this data base can be ex- 
pected to miss many 
events that the news-gath- 
ering organizations ig- 
nored. It also suffers from 
a weakness in that it does 
not include incidents of 
state-sponsored terrorism 
in which government se- 
curity or military forces 
were the perpetrators. This 
is unfortunate because 
casualties from such vio- 
lence are nearly ten times 
as high as that from non- 
state terrorism. The omis- 
sion of state terrorism 
data, however, cannot be 
blamed merely on the au- 
thors of the chronology. 
Research has shown that 
this violence is rarely re- 
ported as terrorism and is 
often completely ignored 
by the news media. Be- 
cause the ITERATE data- 
base relies on news re- 
ports, these chronologies 

These weaknesses do not 
make this volume any less 
useful or impressive, how- 
ever. They merely require 
that those who use the 
data in the printed narra- 
tive volumes or nimieric 
computerized form must 
be aware of its omissions 
and that the chronologies 
do not provide a complete 
picture of terrorist vio- 
lence worldwide. Thus, 

conclusions that they 
might draw based on use 
of the data must be care- 
fully constructed. 

. . . Robert G. Picard 
Emerson College 


Revised edition by Edwin 

Diamond and Stephen Bates. 

• MIT Press 

•1988,395 pp. 

•$25, Cloth; $10.95, Paper 

IN THIS BOOK the au- 
thors attempt to combine a 
general narrative history 
of political television com- 
mercials, a description of 
common advertising tech- 
niques, a discussion of rhe- 
torical "modes" in cam- 
paign advertising, and an 
analysis of the effects of 
political spots. This ambi- 
tious undertaking is only 
partially successful. 

The book is not strictly 
an academic work because 
it lacks detailed citations 
and footnotes. It is mostly 
based on interviews with 
nineteen leading political 
campaign consultants and 
a review of political com- 
mercials in archives at New 
York University. As such, 
it is filled with anecdotes 
and campaign "war sto- 
ries" from these media 
consultants. Some of the 
stories and insights of 
these campaign consult- 
ants are fascinating, while 
others seem tired and self- 
serving. Some consultants, 
specially those based in 
New York, are quoted 


AJ/Winter 1990 

more extensively than oth- 
ers. Much of the book is 
filled with full text and 
photos from television 

This work is far different 
from Kathleen Jamieson's 
Packaging the President 
(1984), which is a more 
scholarly treatment of 
advertising in presidential 
campaigns. Unlike 
Jamieson's work. The Spot 
also covers advertising for 
a few U.S. Senate, congres- 
sional, and big-city may- 
oral races. The book some- 
times seems superficial be- 
cause it attempts to cover 
so much. 

The strength of The Spot 
is contained in the insights 
offered by the consultants 
who were interviewed for 
the book, whom the au- 
thors refer to as "media 
men." These leading con- 
sultants include Tony 
Schwartz, David Garth, 
Robert Squier [sic], and 
Roger Ailes. A major point 
is that these media con- 
sultants have taken the 
leading role in modem 
election campaigns, while 
political party influence 
has diminished. 

The authors categorize 
campaign ads into four 
types: ID (identification) 
spots, argument spots, at- 
tack spots, and "I see an 
America" spots. They also 
list certain rules for using 
ads, some of which seem 
obvious. For example, one 
rule states, "ID commer- 
cials work in getting the 
candidate known." 

Surprisingly, the authors 
assert that "little has been 
written in any orderly 
fashion" about campaign 
television advertising, yet 

the authors themselves re- 
fer to several books and 
studies about campaign 

The authors reject the 
popular conception that 
television ads are all-pow- 
erful "magic bullets" that 
can "sell candidates like 
soap." Instead, they con- 
clude that there is a more 
serious danger to the 
growth of television ad- 
vertising in politics, the 
danger of "turning elec- 
tions and campaigns into a 
kind of spectator sport." 
The authors, however, do 
not make any firm sugges- 
tions about solving the 
problems of modem cam- 
paign advertising. 

The large number of po- 
litical advertisements and 
the insights of major cam- 
paign consultants in The 
Spot may make it worth- 
while as a supplemental 
resource for a course on 
advertising and politics. 

. . . ]ohn y. McGinnis 
St. John Fisher College 


By James Startt and William 
David Sloan. 

• Lawrence Eribaum Associ- 
ates, Inc. 

•1989,216 pp. 

• $24.50, Cloth 

THIS IS A QUITE substan- 
tial guide to methods of 
historical research, with a 
focus on mass communica- 
tion, that should be useful 
to students undertaking 
research term papers or 

theses, particularly in 
graduate seminars. 

Startt, a history professor 
at Valparaiso University, 
and Sloan, a journalism 
professor at Alabama, 
strongly endorse and de- 
fend history as a research 
field, declaring "History is 
the preeminent study 
among the various fields 
of commimication re- 
search, for it brings to- 
gether the methods, find- 
ings, and insights of the 
others and shapes them 
into a coherent explana- 
tion of mankind." Social 
science research methods 
and quantification are 
treated with some reserva- 

In three opening chapters 
the authors discuss the na- 
ture and fundamentals of 
history. Six chapters then 
present instructions on ba- 
sic research procedures, 
searches for bibliographic 
sources, evaluation of 
types of historical sources, 
the problems of explana- 
tion and interpretation, 
writing style, and tips on 
paper presentations and 
publishing. Strongest of 
these six chapters are those 
on bibliographic sources 
and types of historical 
sources; weakest are those 
on writing style and his- 
torical explanation. 

A twenty-page section 
listing bibliographical 
sources is encyclopedic in 
its nature. Presented in a 
dozen different categories, 
it suffers because citations 
are alphabetized, with al- 
most no annotation or gra- 
dation in importance. The 
section on bibliographies 
in communication history 
has twenty-nine listings; 

Book Reviews 


the beginning student re- 
searcher could be well ad- 
vised to start with the vol- 
umes by Price, Price and 
Pickett, Blum (now Blum 
and Wilhoit), Sloan, 
McKerns, and Schwarzlose. 
Indeed, he or she could 
well begin with bibliogra- 
phies in the leading gen- 
eral surveys: The Press and 
America's (1988) updated 
sixty-seven pages of anno- 
tated listings, including 
dissertations and articles; 
Mott's absorbing end-of- 
chapter bibliographies; 
and those by Kobre, Bleyer, 
A.M. Lee, and Barnouw. 

Similarly, in the excellent 
section on approaches to 
communication history in 
the bibliography, the stu- 
dent should be guided to 
the two chapters in Stempel 
and Westley's Research 
Methods in Mass Communi- 
cation (1981)written by 
MaryAnn Yodelis Smith 
and byDavid Nord and 
Harold Nelson, and to 
Communication History 
(1980) by John Stevens and 
Hazel Dicken Garcia, par- 
ticularly Garcia' s chapter 
reviewing historical litera- 

Startt and Sloan offer a 
good chapter tracing the 
rise and fall of six major 
schools of historical inter- 
pretation: nationalist, ro- 
mantic, developmental, 
progressive, consensus, 
and cultural. But except 
for a brief mention in an- 
other chapter, they ignore 
the New Left or radical 
school which came to 
dominate American his- 
tory as the consensus the- 
ory faded. Startt and Sloan 
discuss a few leading jour- 
nalism historians in these 

schools, except for the pro- 
gressive school. For it they 
offer three famous but 
highly opinionated writ- 
ers: Oswald Garrison 
Villard, George Seldes, 
and Harold L. Ickes. 

There are no mentions of 
the general surveys pub- 
lished in the 1970s: Tebbel, 
Rutland, Gordon, and 
Emery and Emery. Other 
items missing from the 
otherwise remarkably 
complete listings are 
Robert Hudson's Mass 
Media Encyclopedia (1987) 
and Marion Marzolf's Up 
from the Footnote (1977)— 
although her journal ar- 
ticles on women in the 
media are included. 

. . . Edwin Emery (retired) 
University of Minnesota 


By Judith Stoughton. 
• North Star Press 
•1988,168 pp. 
•$19.95, Cloth 

movement, founded by 
Dorothy Day and Peter 
Maurin in 1933, has re- 
ceived considerable atten- 
tion in recent years for its 
pioneering role in trans- 
forming American Catho- 
lic social thought. Much 
less well-known is the 
movement's considerable 
influence on Catholic reli- 
gious and liturgical art in 
this country. Most of that 
influence was felt through 

the work of a Belgian immi- 
grant artist, Ade Bethune, 
who began her association 
with the Catholic Worker 
movement and its organ, 
the Catholic Worker, in 1933 
and remains active at age 

Bethune' s artwork and 
articles have appeared in 
many other religious peri- 
odicals, including Catholic 
Digest, Liturgical Arts, 
Fellowship, Liturgy and 
Sociology, Orate Fratres 
(later known as Worship), 
and Christian Social Art 
Quarterly (later known as 
Catholic Art Quarterly). She 
has designed covers for 
several periodicals, includ- 
ing the Catholic School 
Editor, Altar and Home, Lit- 
urgy and Sociology, Torch , 
and Interaction. 

This volume, the first 
book-length study of 
Bethune's life and work, 
provides ample visual and 
literary evidence of her ex- 
traordinary powers as a 
religious artist, and as a 
theorist and critic of what 
Stoughton properly calls 
"visual theology." Beauti- 
fully illustrated with nu- 
merous examples of the 
artist's work (including 
eight pages of color plates), 
the book diligently con- 
veys valuable biographical 
information and presents a 
thorough retrospective of 
Bethune's long career. Un- 
fortunately, Proud Donkey 
of Schaerbeek is more an ap- 
preciation and catalog 
than a critical art-historical 
study, and so provides the 
reader with few resources 
for interpreting the real 
significance of Bethune's 
work in any of its appro- 
priate contexts. Neverthe- 


AJ /Winter 1990 

less, this book will un- 
doubtedly provide the 
starting point for more 
interpretive studies of 
Bethune's place in modern 
American art. 

While seldom reaching 
beyond factual presenta- 
tion, the volume does ef- 
fectively convey the essen- 
tial features of Bethune's 
fascinating life and arrest- 
ing character. Bom into an 
aristocratic but somewhat 
downwardly mobile Bel- 
gian family just before 
World War I, Bethune emi- 
grated to the United States 
with her parents in 1928. 
From her highly cultured 
and intensely Roman 
Catholic family, Bethune 
inherited a serene spiritu- 
ality and keen aesthetic 
tastes that were all the 
more potent for their 
seeming naturalness and 
ease of expression. 

The encounter of this 
confident, budding young 
Belgian-American artist 
with Dorothy Day's radi- 
cal American Catholic 
Worker movement in the 
fall of 1933 proved mo- 
mentous for both parties. 
Bethune began illustrating 
Day's widely circulated 
tabloid paper, the Catholic 
Worker, with her forceful 
woodcuts of Catholic 
saints performing the 
works of mercy in contem- 
porary, working-class 
modes. These illustrations 
became a central feature of 
the Catholic Worker tradi- 
tion, and the attention they 
attracted from such Amer- 
ican Catholic artistic pio- 
neers as John Howard 
Benson and Graham Carey 
led directly to Bethtme's 
subsequent successful ca- 

reer. Working initially out 
of the John Stevens Shop 
in Rhode Island, Bethune 
became an important fig- 
ure in the liturgical arts 
movement that led up to 
Vatican II, and an eagerly 
sought church-building 
consultant in the United 
States and other countries. 
As a religious artist, she 
worked successfully in a 
great variety of media, in- 
cluding calligraphy, wood- 
carving, stained glass, 
fresco, and mosaic. 

While only a very small 
portion of this work was 
directly connected with 
the Catholic Worker move- 
ment, Stoughton's desig- 
nation of Bethune as a 
"Catholic Worker artist" is 
thoroughly justified be- 
cause her aesthetic prin- 
ciples were profoundly 
shaped by the moral and 
spiritual outlook she de- 
rived from Day's radical 
movement. Proud Donkey 
of Schaerbeek provides 
enough examples of 
Bethune's aesthetic values 
to demonstrate their strong 
roots in both Christian 
mystical and liturgical tra- 
dition and in Bethune's 
rich, earthy Catholic sensi- 

While the text demon- 
strates how Bethune's 
commitment to these val- 
ues enabled her to succeed 
as artist, teacher, and 
critic, it seldom delves 
much below the surface of 
her life and work. The 
quotations from Bethune's 
own writings show her to 
be an astute natural art 
critic, but she also displays 
something of the aristo- 
cratic practitioner's dis- 
taste for critical evaluation 

of her own aesthetic. Con- 
sequently, the absence 
here of much analysis of 
Bethune's work in relation 
to other modern and 
Christian art detracts sig- 
nificantly from the value 
of the study. Especially in 
the last chapters, the text 
becomes little more than 
an illustrated and anno- 
tated list of commissions 
and writings (though the 
volume lacks a separate 
catalog and bibliography). 
What artistic commentary 
there is fails to probe very 
far into Bethune's arrest- 
ing images and ideas. De- 
spite these flaws, this vol- 
ume represents a beauti- 
ful, welcome tribute to a 
great artist and a holy 

...Mel Piehl 
Valparaiso University 


By Odie B.and Laura E Faulk. 
• University of Mary Hardin- 

•$19.95, Cloth 

THE AUTHORS recount 
in considerable detail the 
accomplishments of Frank 
W. Maybom (1903-^7), 
whose family acquired the 
Temple (Texas) Daily Tele- 
gram just before the Wall 
Street crash of 1929. His fa- 
ther. Ward Mayborn, was 
a major executive for the 
Scripps-McRae newspaper 
chain. The first quarter of 
this well-annotated book 
describes, sometimes in al- 

Book Reviews 


most trivial detail, young 
Mayborn's life as he 
moved with his family 
from his birthplace in Ak- 
ron, Ohio, to Evansville, 
Denver, Cleveland, Dallas, 
and finally to Temple, 
where he found himself 
publisher of the Daily Tele- 
gram at age twenty-six, af- 
ter a planned family enter- 
prise went awry. Through 
hard work, political acu- 
men, and promotion he 
built a small newspaper 
group in central Texas and 
became a pioneer in the 
radio and broadcast indus- 

The success of his com- 
munications endeavors 
can be attributed in no 
small part to promotion of 
a wide variety of civic, 
military, cultural, educa- 
tional, and political inter- 
ests. Maybom felt that the 
newspaper is a vital part 
of the community and 
should be run as such. The 
authors portray Mayborn 
as a "catalyst" who made 
things happen — one who 
used his influence as a 
media businessman and 
civic-minded citizen to en- 
list public and political 
support for projects he felt 
were in the best interests 
of central Texas, the state, 
and the nation. 

These projects included 
medical and transporta- 
tion facilities, industrial 
plants. Fort Hood (one of 
the largest armored train- 
ing centers in the world), 
an enlarged Draughon- 
Miller airport, water and 
real estate development, a 
federal office building for 
Temple, and a wide vari- 
ety of fund-raisers for edu- 
cational and social causes. 

Attention is called to May- 
born's widely recognized 
efforts on behalf of young 
people and his grant of 
journalism scholarships 
and internships to Baylor, 
Texas, Texas A&M, North 
Texas, and Texas Tech 
Universities. He also gave 
educational grants to the 
University of Mary Hardin- 
Baylor and Peabody Col- 
lege in Nashville, as well 
as to other schools. 

The Faulks describe how 
Mayborn, while building 
the Temple Daily Telegram 
into one of the state's top 
award-winning newspa- 
pers, expanded his hold- 
ings to include the Killeen 
Daily Herald, the Sherman 
Democrat, the Taylor Daily 
Press, and the Fort Hood 

The volume details the 
problems Mayborn en- 
countered in establishing 
radio station KTEM in 
Temple in 1936, the first 
station outside a major 
metropolitan area, and his 
unsuccessful early efforts 
in expanding KTEM to in- 
clude FM broadcasting. 
Another broadcast en- 
deavor was WMAK, a ra- 
dio station in Nashville, 
which became important 
to Mayborn's educational 
interests in Peabody and 
Vanderbilt. The authors 
also describe Mayborn's 
efforts to bring better tele- 
vision service to central 
Texas through KCEN. 

From 1939, when he be- 
came president of the 
Temple Chamber of Com- 
merce and Board of Devel- 
opment, and later head of 
a War Industries Commit- 
tee, this persuasive media 
entrepreneur developed 

an interest in military af- 
fairs and an influential as- 
sociation with political 
and military leaders of this 
country that affected the 
affairs of central Texas for 
the remainder of his life. In 
describing Mayborn's war- 
time activities, the authors 
recall that he refused a po- 
litical commission and en- 
listed at age thirty-nine as 
a private in the Army. He 
spent much of his military 
service assigned to the 
Public Relations Division 
of Supreme Headquarters, 
Allied Expeditionary 
Forces, in Europe, a posi- 
tion that helped him estab- 
lish relationships that 
proved important to the 
success of post-war proj- 
ects in central Texas. May- 
born held the rank of ma- 
jor by the time of his dis- 

Throughout this biogra- 
phy the authors describe 
how Mayborn's executive 
talents and decisiveness 
enabled him to manage a 
business empire, under- 
take assignments for the 
government, and still have 
time for numerous civic 
and cultural involvements. 
The last chapters of the 
book detail some of the 
awards and recognitions 
this influential publisher- 
received from a wide vari- 
ety of social, civic, educa- 
tional and professional or- 

. , . Elsie S. Hebert 
Louisiana State University 


Commemorating the Bicentennial of the First Amendment 

The American Journalism Historians Association will sponsor a special research 
paper competition emphasizing subjects addressing the history of freedom of 
expression in the United States. The competition is part of the association's 
activities in 1991 commemorating the bicentennial of the ratification of the First 

Winning papers will be presented at AJHA's annual meeting in October 1991 in 
Philadelphia, and will be published in a dedicated issue of American Journalism, 
the association's journal. Completed papers and requests for additional informa- 
tion should be sent to: 

Thomas A. Schwartz 

School of Journalism 

Ohio State University 

242 W. 18th Avenue 

Columbus, Ohio 43210 

All research approaches are welcome. Submissions should be typed, double- 
spaced and in five copies. Submissions should be postmarked by February 15, 

Readings of James W. Carey's Communication As Cuiture 

The Fall 1990 issue of American Journalism will feature three review essays on 
James W. Carey's recent book Communication as Culture. Each will assess Carey's 
contributions to the study of communication history. Professor Carey has agreed 
to respond to the three critiques. 

The contributors will be: 

David Eason, University of Utah 

Carolyn Marvin, University of Pennsylvania 

Michael Schudson, University of California at San Diego. 

Readers of American Journalism are also invited to submit Research Notes on this 
general topic, for publication in that same issue. Such notes might comment on 
Carey's book, his impact on journalism history, or his contribution to the study 
of conununication. Research Notes are typically 3-6 pages, written without 

Anyone planning to submit a Research Note for the Carey issue should send the 
Editor a precis by July 1, 1990. Finished essays must be submitted by August 15, 


TULSA, OK 74104 




SPRING 1990 
Published by the American JournaUsm Historians Association 






Peabody Collection 



Review Essay: 

Journalism History 


Women War 

Revolution in Print 

News and Politics in the 
Age of Revolution 

Freedom of Expression 
and Partisan Politics 

Radio Warfare 

Home Town News 

Dreiser's Articles 

Lucy Larcom 

Right Times, Right Places 

The St. Josephs-Blatt 

. . . and more 


• Unity, Not Absorption: Robert Lyon 

and the Asmonean 

A Jewish Weekly Newspaper in New York City 
Makes a Home for Its Immigrant Readers. 
Barbara Straus Reed 77 

• Theodore Roosevelt: 
Public Relations Pioneer 

The First Master of the Media Event, the News 
Leak, the Trial Balloon, and the Sound Bite. 
Rodger Streitmatter 96 


John J. Pauly 



Pamela A. Brown 

Rider College 

Gary Whitby 

Central Missouri State 


Nancy Roberts 



Sharon M.W. Bass 


Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 


Barbara Buckley 



Wm. David Sloan 


Gary Whitby 

Central Missouri State 



Maurine Beasley 



Leomard Teel 

Georgia State 


Donald Avery 

Southern Mississippi 


Perry Ashley 

South Carolina 

Roy Atwood 

Elaine Berland 


Lester Carson 


Edward Caudill 


Barbara Qoud 

Nevada-las Vegas 

Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Nancy Roberts 



American Journalism publishes 
articles, research notes, book 
reviews, and correspondence 
dealing with the history of 
journalism. Such contribu- 
tions may focus on social, 
economic, intellectual, politi- 
cal, or legal issues. American 
Journalism also welcomes ar- 
ticles that treat the history of 
conmumication in general; the 
history of broadcasting, ad- 
vertising, and public relations; 
the history of media outside 
the United States; and theo- 
retical issues in the literature 
or methods of media history. 

SUBMISSIONS. All articles, 
research notes, and corre- 
spondence should be sent to 
Professor John Pauly, Editor, 
American Journalism, Faculty 
of Commvmication, Univer- 
sity of Tulsa, 600 S. College 
Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma 
74104. Authors should send 
four copies of manuscripts 
submitted for publication as 
articles. American Journalism 
follows the style require- 
ments of The Chicago Manual 
of Style. The maximum length 
for most manuscripts is 
twenty-five pages, not includ- 
ing notes and tables. 

AU submissions are blind 
refereed by three readers, and 
the review process typically 
takes about three months. 
Manuscripts will be returned 
only if the author has includ- 
ed a self-addressed stamped 

Research notes are typically 
three- to six-page manu- 
scripts, written without for- 
mal documentation. Such 
notes, which are not blind 
refereed, may include reports 
of research in progress, dis- 
cussions of methodology, an- 
notations on new archival 
sources, commentaries on is- 
sues in journalism history, or 
suggestions for future re- 
search. Authors who wish to 
contribute research notes are 
invited to query the editor. 

Anyone who wishes to re- 
view books for American 
Journalism, or to propose a 
book for review, should con- 
tact Professor Nancy Roberts, 
Book Review Editor, American 
Journalism, School of Journal- 
ism and Mass Communica- 
tion, University of Minnesota, 
Minneapolis, Miimesota 

American Journalism is pro- 
duced on a Macintosh com- 
puter, using Microsoft Word 
and Pagemaker software. Au- 
thors of manuscripts accepted 
for publication are encour- 
aged, but not required, to 
submit their work on a DOS- 
based or Macintosh disk. 

ADVERTISING. Information 
on advertising rates and 
placements is available from 
Professor Alf Pratte, Adver- 
tising Manager, American 
Journalism, Department of 
Commuiucations, Brigham 
Young University, Provo, 
Utah 84602. 

Journalism (ISSN 0882-1127) 
is published quarterly by the 
American Journalism Histori- 
ans Association, at the Uni- 
versity of Tulsa. Subscriptions 
to American Journalism cost 
$15 a year, $10 for students, 
and include a one-year mem- 
bership in AJHA. Subscrip- 
tions mailed outside the 
United States cost $20 for sur- 
face mail, $25 for air mail. For 
further information, please 
contact the Editor. 

COPYRIGHT. © American 
Journalism Historians Asso- 
ciation, 1990. Articles in 
American Journalism may be 
photocopied for fair use in 
teaching, research, criticism, 
and news rejwrting, in accor- 
dance with Sections 107 and 
108 of the U.S. Copyright 
Law. For all other purposes, 
lasers must obtain permission 
from the Editor. 

REFEREES. Thanks to the 
following editorial board 
members, who have recently 
read manuscripts for 
American Journalism. 

Dave Anderson 
Northern Colorado 
Anantha Babbili 
Texas Christian 
Elaine Berland 


Robert Doolittle 


Carolyn Dyer 


R. Ferrell Ervin 

Southeast Missouri State 

E)onald Fishman 

Boston College 

Thelma Gorham 

Florida A&M 

Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Richard Lentz 

Arizona State 

Louis Liebovich 


Karen List 


Donald MacE)onald 


Zena McGlashan 

North Dakota 

Patricia Muller 

Wisconsin-La Crosse 

Sharon Murphy 


Sid Factor 


Robert Picard 

Emerson College 

Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Robert Rutland 


Kim Smith 

Iowa State 

Linda Steiner 


Patrick Washburn 

Gilbert Williams 
Michigan State 


ONE CONSEQUENCE of all the recent interest in 
communication history has been a remarkable in- 
crease in the number of books being published in the 
field. In virtually all respects that increase has proved 
gratifying. With so many historical monographs now 
available, teaching classes is much easier today than 
it was ten or fifteen years ago. Moreover, each new 
book opens possibilities for our own work, adding 
range and depth to our understanding, provoking 
our curiosity anew. 

Unfortunately all our new intellectual wealth has 
left us ever more time-poor, too. Perhaps for the first 
time in the history of our discipline, it has become 
virtually impossible for an individual to keep up 
with everything being written in communication his- 
tory. With the nationwide expansion of programs in 
communication, with all the intense interest in com- 
munication technology, institutions, and practices, 
communication history has started to produce its 
own specializations. That is an old, familiar story to 
scholars in traditional disciplines such as history and 
literature, but it is still news to us. 

To help readers sift through all the new books, 
American Journalism is expanding its review section. 
Each issue will now include reviews of fifteen or 
more books as well as review essays in which writers 
evaluate recent books in their own areas of expertise. 
My hope is that by increasing the size and scope of the 
review section, American Journalism will encourage 
readers to participate in a larger conversation about 
communication, a conversation that specialization 
always threatens to silence. 

This issue also features articles by Barbara Straus 
Reed and Rodger Streitmatter based on papers that 
were chosen as among the best presented at the 1989 
convention of the American Journalism Historians 
Association, held in Atlanta. 



IF YOU WANT to develop 
a comprehensive history of 
American broadcasting or 
a cultural history of the 
United States during the 
past fifty years, you should 
include in your research 
plans the George Foster 
Peabody Collection at the 
University of Georgia in 

In fact, the thousands of 
radio and television pro- 
grams in the Peabody Col- 
lection can provide in- 
sightful information about 
government, wars, social 
movements, or almost 
anything else that has been 
depicted on broadcast sta- 
tions and networks since 

Since it was made more 
accessible to scholars, stu- 
dents, and others in the 
1980s, the collection has 
been used for studies of 
the Vietnam War, the Civil 
Rights movement, and an 
American view of the So- 
viet Union, as well as for a 
fifty-year retrospective of 
American broadcasting, 
the role of local radio sta- 
tions in World War II, the 
evolution of radio public 
service programming, and 
other topics. 

The collection, which in- 
cludes most of the entries 
in the Peabody Awards 
Program sponsored by the 
University of Georgia, is 
one of the largest broad- 
cast archives in the coun- 



try. It already includes 
more than twenty-five 
thousand programs, and it 
is adding from eight 
hundred to a thousand 
more each year. 

Dr. Worth McDougald, 
director of the Peabody 
Awards program, says the 
collection has many assets 
besides its size. It has 
thousands of programs 
produced by local stations, 
it includes mamy types of 
local and network pro- 
grams, and it represents 
what stations, networks, 
producers and others re- 
garded as their best work 
in given years and catego- 

Many collections concen- 
trate on network programs 
or particular types of pro- 
grams such as news or 
dramatic shows. The Pea- 
body Collection has local 
programs from through- 
out the country as well as 
network programs, and it 
includes various catego- 
ries, such as news, public 
service, education, enter- 
tainment, music, children's 
programs, and others. 

Since entries represent 
what entrants regarded as 
their best work, the collec- 
tion includes most of the 
critically acclaimed and in- 
fluential programs of the 
past half century. They 
chronicle World War II, 
Korea, and Vietnam, the 
Cold War, the space race, 
the human rights move- 
ment, Watergate, the Iran- 
Contra affair, cultural 
change, and other devel- 

opments from both local 
and national perspectives. 

The collection was 
started in 1941 when the 
first Peabody Awards 
were given by the Univer- 
sity of Georgia and the Na- 
tional Association of 
Broadcasters for programs 
broadcast in 1940. Winners 
were, and still are, selected 
by a board whose mem- 
bers are familiar with 
broadcasting but not di- 
rectly associated with any 
station or network. 

The late John E. Drewry, 
then dean of Georgia's 
School of Journalism, 
started the program at the 
suggestion of Lambdin 
Kay, manager of WSB ra- 
dio station in Atlanta and 
a member of a NAB com- 
mittee appointed to ex- 
plore development of a 
radio equivalent of the 
Pulitzer Prizes for print 

The School of Journalism 
(now College of Journal- 
ism and Mass Communi- 
cation) has continued to 
administer the awards 
program, which is recog- 
nized by many as the most 
prestigious in the industry, 
and develop the collection. 
The NAB continued an in- 
direct association for a few 
years, but withdrew out of 
concern that its involve- 
ment might be construed 
by some as a conflict of 

Kay suggested that the 
awards program be named 
in honor of George Foster 
Peabody, a native Geor- 

gian who became a major 
benefactor of the Univer- 
sity of Georgia after 
achieving success with a 
New York investment 
firm. Peabodyhad died in 

Georgia officials decided 
soon after the awards pro- 
gram was started to keep 
all materials associated 
with the entries. As a re- 
sult, the collection includes 
entry and nomination 
forms, scripts, photo- 
graphs, press clippings, 
letters from viewers, and 
other such materials, as 
well as films, audio and 
video tapes, electrical tran- 
scriptions, and kinescopes. 

The collection includes 
virtually all of the local ra- 
dio and television pro- 
grams entered ft-om the 
beginning and most of the 
network programs, includ- 
ing all since 1969, when 
the Peabody board and the 
university adopted a firm 
no-return policy. 

Some significant omis- 
sions do exist because the 
major networks at one 
time requested the return 
of their entries, especially 
those on kinescopes and 
early shows recorded on 
"re-usable" two-inch vide- 
otape. In addition, the 
board occasionally hon- 
ored programs not for- 
mally entered. 

The Peabody Collection 
does, however, have the 
supporting materials on 
recordings that were re- 
turned, and it is seeking to 
replace missing programs 
with the cooperation of the 
National Center for Film 
and Television Preserva- 
tion and its consortium of 

Other recording omis- 
sions also exist as a result 
of technical problems. 
Some early programs were 
recorded on fragile materi- 
als that haven't survived 
the effects of time or have 
come apart during efforts 
to re-record them on mod- 
ern tapes for use by re- 
searchers and others. 

University officials are 
dealing with these prob- 
lems as best they can as 
part of their continuing ef- 
forts to make the collection 
accessible to scholars, stu- 
dents, and others inter- 
ested in broadcasting. In 
virtually all instances, the 
written materials, includ- 
ing descriptions of the pro- 
grams, that accompanied 
the entries have survived. 

For many years, the col- 
lection was stored in the 
journalism building and 
virtually inaccessible to 
any but staff members. But 
in the middle 1970s, after 
completion of a major ad- 
dition to the university's 
main library, it was moved 
there and steps taken to 
catalog all materials and 
re-record the older pro- 
grams that were becoming 

This process is still in 
progress. The university 
obtained a grant of 
$150,000 from the National 
Endowment for the Hu- 
manities in 1979, and it 
committed some $232,000 
in services and materials 
to get the project started. 
More funds are needed to 
complete the work, and 
those within the media in- 
dustry have been reluctant 
to contribute for fear it 
would appear that they 
are seeking favors in the 

ongoing competition. 

The collection is being 
used, however, by faculty, 
graduate students, and re- 
searchers from organiza- 
tions such as the major 
television networks, the 
BBC, and National Geo- 
graphic magazine. A CBS 
representative doing re- 
search for a program on 
television in the 1950s col- 
lected some fifty-five 
hours of Peabody materi- 
als to study and excerpt 
for the network's program. 

In the past year or so, the 
collection has been used as 
a primary source of infor- 
mation for the observance 
of the fiftieth anniversary 
of television at the Smith- 
sonian Instutution, the 
MGM-Disney Theme Park, 
and the New Museum in 
New York, and it has been 
utilized in background re- 
search by a number of pro- 
duction companies. 

Dr. Barry Sherman, head 
of the telecommunications 
department at Georgia, 
used the collection for an 
extensive study of the Vi- 
etnam War and television 
for the 1987 American 
Film Institute Video Festi- 
val. Sherman looked at 110 
programs on Vietnam, 
Cambodia, and Laos en- 
tered in the competition 
between 1961 and 1985 
and selected 25 for festival 
screening. About half are 
local programs that pro- 
vide a viewpoint not avail- 
able in other major collec- 

Sherman and Patricia J. 
Priest, a doctoral student 
at Georgia, subsequently 
did a study of the civil 
rights movement as seen in 
programs in the Peabody 


AJ/Spring 1990 

Collection. They found 
that 79 of 146 programs 
entered in the competition 
between 1949 and 1967 
had been preserved. These 
included children's pro- 
grams, dramas, and other 
non-news programs, as 
well as documentaries, 
news broadcasts, editori- 
als, and public service an- 

Dr. Al Moffett of Georgia 
State University, while a 
graduate student at Geor- 
gia in the mid-1980s, did a 
study of "Hometown Ra- 
dio and World War II," 
and Michael Marcotte, an- 
other graduate student, 
did a study of 'Trends 
in Radio Public Service, 
1948-1982," using entries 
in the awards program. 

These studies help illus- 
trate the Peabody Collec- 
tion's unique potential for 
providing the local view- 
point that is so important 
to understanding Ameri- 
can history and American 
people. It has the network 
reports, as some other col- 
lections do. But it also pro- 
vides the local angle so of- 
ten missing in the network 

The possibilities for re- 
search in the collection are 
about as great as the re- 
searcher's sense of what to 
study. One could, for ex- 
ample, explore news bias, 
sensationalism, or agenda 
setting in the media, the 
impact of new technology, 
changing social roles, 
trends in programming, or 
any number of historical 
events and developments. 

Dr. McDougald said re- 
search courtesies would be 
extended to any bona fide 
scholar. Commerical re- 


Commemorating the Bicentennial 
of the First Amendment 

The American Journalism Historians Association will 
sponsor a special research paper competition emphasiz- 
ing subjects addressing the history of freedom of expres- 
sion in the United States. The competition is part of the as- 
sociation's activities in 1991 commemorating the bicen- 
tennial of the ratification of the Rrst Amendment. 

Winning papers will be presented at AJHA's annual 
meeting in October 1991 in Philadelphia, and will be pub- 
lished in a dedicated issue of American Journalism, the 
association's journal. Completed papers and requests for 
additional information should be sent to: 

Thomas A. Schwartz 

School of Journalism 

Ohio State University 

242 W. 18th Avenue 

Columbus, Ohio 43210 

All research approaches are welcome. Submissions should 
be typed, double-spaced and in five copies. Submissions 
should be postmarked by February 15, 1991. 

searchers may also ask per- 
mission to use the collec- 
tion. Fees may be charged 
to cover the expenses of 
Peabody staff members 
working with them. 

The nature of the collec- 
tion dictates some restric- 
tions on its use. The uni- 
versity does not lend cop- 
ies of Peabody materials 
directly or through interli- 
brary loan. Original re- 
cordings cannot be played, 
but copies are available for 
many of them. As noted 
earlier, the process of cata- 
loging and re-recording 
programs is not complete. 

Persons who would like 
to use the collection 
should make arrange- 
ments in advance. Infor- 
mation about the collec- 

tion and its use can be ob- 
tained by writing 
Dr. Worth McDougald, di- 
rector, Peabody Awards 
Program, College of Jour- 
nalism and Mass Commu- 
nication, University of 
Georgia, Athens, Georgia 
30602, or by calling him at 
(404) 542-3787 or (404) 542- 
9273 (fax). 

. . . Ernest C. Hynds 
University of Georgia 




The Origins of the First English-Language 
Jewish Weekly in the United States 

Barbara Straus Reed 

EVERY MAJOR IMMIGRANT GROUP and many lesser ones es- 
tablished ethnic presses after arriving in the United States. These 
papers showed a more genuine interest in the welfare of their 
readers and established more personal, helpful ties with their 
communities than did the majority press. Overall, the ethnic 
press proved enormously valuable in smoothing the difficult 
transition to their adopted homeland. It aided this accommoda- 
tion in a number of ways. Many immigrant journals offered 
readers needed information. Others championed social reforms 
that benefited the ethnic group as a whole. Additionally, papers 
strove to educate their readers in the ways of American life, 
thereby helping them acculturate or assimilate. There is little 
question that these journals helpjed to create a sense of the ethnic 
group's culture, identity, nationality, or religion in America.^ 

In large part, the practices of ethnic newspaper editors and 
publishers can be explained by understanding the social and 
economic position they occupied within their communities. As 
a result of their diversity — particularly in the early years — news- 
papers were often mere sounding boards for other enterprises, 
and journalists commonly subordinated editorial policies to the 
interests of these ventures. The major problems confronting 
immigrant editors were their constituencies, largely illiterate, 
distrustful of intellectuals, suspicious of strangers, and impov- 

1. See for example, Carl Wittke, The German language Press in America (Lexing- 
ton: University of Kentucky Press, 1957); A. William Hoglund, Finnish Immi- 
grants in America (Madison: Uruversity of Wisconsin Press, 1960); S. W. Kung, 
Chinese Life in America: Some Aspects of Their History, Status, Problems and Contri- 
butions (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962; reissue, Westport, Conn.: 
Greenwood Press, 1973); Joseph Roucek, The Czechs and Slovaks in America 
(Minneapolis: Lemer Publications, 1967); Mordecai Soltes, The Yiddish Press: An 
Americanizing Agency (New York: Columbia University Teachers College, 1 950); 
and Edmund G. Olszyk, The Polish American Press in America (Milwaukee: Mar- 
quette University Press, 1940). 

Barbara Re«d is an 
assistant professor 
in the Department 
of Journalism and 
iMass Media at 
Rutgers University. 
She received her 
doctorate In mass 
from Ohio Univer- 
sity, and she previ- 
ously taught at 
Califomla State 
University at Los 
Angeles. Her a^ 
ticle is adapted 
from a chapter in 
her dissertation. 


AJ/Spring 1990 

"Well before sub- 
stantial Jewish im- 
migretion began to 
flow, the highly fa- 
vorable terms oy 
which Jews, and 
others, could enter 
and accommodate 
themselves in 
American life were 

- Lloyd P. Gartner 

"Immigration and 

the Formation of 

American Jewry, 


erished. Yet given these handicaps, n\any editors accomplished 
yeoman deeds in their American vineyard.^ 

More difficult to measure, but nonetheless present, was the 
element of comfort and security that the ethnic press provided to 
first-generation immigrants. During what must have been at 
best a difficult transition, newcomers often found solace in 
journals using familiar themes and stressing news of lands from 
which they had so recently departed. As such, these papers acted 
as cushions against the shocks and traumas occasioned by new 
adjustments, and, in many cases, were important mediating 
agencies between the immigrant culture and that of the host 
country. Furthermore, the press helped to articulate for unedu- 
cated new arrivals the grievances they felt acutely but found 
difficult to express; no other institution within the ethnic com- 
munity was as capable of carrying out this function.' Each ethnic 
group is part of the American mosaic, and each reacted to the 
American experience differently. 

This paper concerns the birth and development of the As- 
monean, the first English-language Jewish weekly in America, 
and pieces together the available facts about its editor, Robert 
Lyon. The Asmonean remains an important example of the ethnic 
press because it came at a critical time in the history of Jewish 
immigration to the United States. For more than eight years 
Lyon's paper played an important role in helping the new 
arrivals integrate with the majority community as well as pre- 
serve their heritage. In other words, it assisted Jews in becoming 
part of the whole, yet distinguishable with their unique culture 
and traditions. Its success was due in part to the audience Lyon 
addressed. It helped its immigrant readers learn English. For 
those already fluent in English, the regular reporting of news in 
the Jewish community promoted not only identity but also 
cohesion. The advertisements made immigrants aware of avail- 
able goods and services. 

As a metaphor, the melting pot image of immigration proves 
unfortunate and misleading. One scholar has suggested that a 
more accurate analogy would be a salad bowl, "for though the 
salad is an entity, the lettuce can still be distinguished from the 
chicory, the tomatoes from the cabbage."* As a result of these 
resistant bits of foreign ways within the United States, American 
culture has been more colorful, more cosmopolitan, more di- 
verse than any other people's; indeed, cultural diversity has 
been one of the hallmarks of American civilization. 

An example of this "salad-bowl theory" of immigration can 

2. Gary Mormino, "TTie Immigrant Editor," Journal of Ethnic Studies 9 (1981): 

3. George E. Pozzetta, "The Italian Immigrant Press of New York City: The Early 
Years, 1880-1915/' Journal of Ethnic Studies 1 (1973): 32-46. 

4. Carl N. Degler, Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modem America, rev. ed. 
(New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1970), 296. 



be seen in the Jews from western and central Europe, who came 
to America in the nineteenth century in what is known as the 
German Jewish immigration. Between 1840 and 1880, a quarter- 
million German Jews (and some Polish) settled in the United 
States.^ Primarily they settled in the cities and towns, along with 
their gentile fellow immigrants from Germany, who became 
their customers in commercial enterprises. Not that immigrants 
arrived as prosperous merchants. Rather, they possessed little 
money, started as peddlers, carried merchandise to customers in 
the countryside, and after acquiring sufficient capital, purchased 
a horse and wagon to carry on their enterprise. Later, the 
successful ones began shops and became settled merchants, or 
"store princes" as they were popularly known.* 

The majority of these immigrants quickly accepted the aes- 
thetic standards and cultural patterns of the American Protes- 
tant middle class, which seemed appropriate for the American 
scene, and modified their lives accordingly. Immigrant Jews de- 
lighted in the American climate of equality and sought to be as 
much like their neighbors as possible, to shed marks of their for- 
eign origin. Yet they were Jews; complete absorption was impos- 
sible. They sought "to exist and yet not to exist, to be needed and 
yet to be unimportant, to be different and yet to be the same, to 
be integrated and yet to be separate."^ 

Pioneer ethnic publications, of whatever group, tend to be 
founded as a response to the activities of others.* The theme of 
defense is a strong one; for Jews, that defense was against 

The poMibillties 
of Juaaism and 
Jewish IHe in 
America under tlie 
regime of free op- 
tion, state aloof- 
ness, and auto- 
matic emancipa- 
tion were to be 
explored by every 
generation of Jews 
wlio came to 

- Gartner, 
"immigration and 
American Jewry." 

5. Bernard D. Weinryb, "East European Immigration to the United States," 
Jewish Quarterly Review 45 (April 1955): 497-528. 

6. Isaac M. Wise, Reminiscences (Cincinnati: Leo Wise , 1901) 109; see also, Israel 
Knox, Rabbi in America: The Story of Isaac M. Wise, ed. Oscar Handlin (Boston: 
Little, Brovym, 1957). A few of these princes founded retail dynasties: the 
Strauses of Macy's, the Gimbels, Bloomingdales, Bergdorfs and so on; most, 
however, remained of moderate means. 

7. Joshua A. Fishman, et al.. Language Loyalty in the United States: The Maintenance 
and Perpetuations of Non-English Mother Tongues by American Ethnic and Religious 
Groups (Salem, N.H.: Ayer Publishing, 1978), 73. 

8. Seie Sam G. Riley, "A Note of Caution — The Indian's Own Prejudice, as 
Mirrored in the First Native American Newspaper," Journalism History 6 (Summer 
1979): 44-47; Sharon Murphy, "American IncUans and the Media: Neglect and 
Stereotype," Journalism History 6 (Svmimer 1979): 39-43; Richard LaCourse, "An 
Indian Perspective — Native American Journalism: An Overview," Journalism 
History 6 (Summer 1979): 34-38; Hank LaBrie III, "Black Newspapers: The Roots 
Are 150 Years Deep," Journalism History 4 (Winter 1977-78): 110-13; Juan 
Gonzales, Forgotten Pages: Spanish-Language Newspaf>ers in the Southwest," 
Journalism History 4 (Summer 1977): 50-51; Kenneth D. Nordin, "In Search of 
Black Unity: An Interpretation of the Content and Function of Freedom's 
Journal," Journalism History 4 (Winter 1977-78): 123-28; Sharon Murphy, "Ne- 
glected Pioneers: 19th Century Native American Newspapers," Journalism 
History 4 (Autximn 1977): 79-S2; Lionel Barrow, "Our Own Cause: Freedom's 
Jourtml and the Beginnings of the Black Press," Journalism History 4 (Winter 
1977-78): 118-122; Felix Gutierrez, "Spanish-Language Media in America: 
Backgroimd, Resources, History," Jourruilism History 4 (Summer 1977): 34-41. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

"Historians aener- 
ally accept that 
perhaps 2,000 
Jews lived in the 
Thirteen Colonies 
at the time o( the 
American Revolu- 
tion, and fifty 
years later, about 
1825, the number 
was still no higher 
than about 6,000." 
- Gartner, 
"Immigration and 
American Jewry." 

evangelical movements to convert them to Christianity.' Such 
movements targeted the Jews from the early part of the nnid- 
nineteenth century, when they numbered in ti\e hundreds. Dur- 
ing the years 1843 to 1849, the Jewish community increased 
substantially as whole families, rather than isolated individuals, 
began to arrive in America. It was the time when the contempo- 
rary American Jewish scene emerged and found its shape and di- 
rection. Issues other than conversion vied for consideration. For 
American Jews, experimenting with new life patterns engaged 
their full attention. In 1849 approximately fifty thousand Jews 
lived in the United States. Roughly thirteen to fourteen thou- 
sand lived in New York, the leading Jewish community in the 
country, then as now. Thirteen new congregations had been or- 
ganized there since the Revolution.^" New York City consis- 
tently possessed the greatest number of periodicals printed in 
America, and also supplied much of the talent and news for the 
ethnic press throughout the nation. 

The new immigrants, mostly from central Europe, began to 
find a niche for themselves economically but found the Jewish 
community undistinguished and divided. Many leaders were 
untrained and pursued their duties as religious lay readers as 
merely another way to make a living. Isaac Leeser, the pioneer, 
with his magazine, the Occident and American Jewish Advocate, at- 
tempted to reach members of the far-flung Jewish communities 
throughout the country. Yet his magazine appeared only monthly 
and went to a linruted number of subscribers; the Jewish commu- 
nity needed more information and inspiration — and a more 
frequent exchange of ideas. Also, Leeser lived in Philadelphia, a 
large Jewish center but one that stood in the shadow of New 
York's fourteen thousand, who needed their own organ. 

Two Jewish publications, weeklies, were established in 1849 
to answer the needs of Jewish New Yorkers. Israels Herold [sic], 
the first, began publication in German on 30 March, with Isidor 
Bush as editor; it lasted but three months." Because Bush's 
weekly was highly philosophical in tone, it failed to reach a large 
number of people. American Jews at that time possessed neither 
a broad general education nor even a proper Jewish one. Its 
demise resulted from the audience's indifference, even though 

9. Naomi W. Cohen, "Pioneers of American Jewish Defense," American Jewish 
Archives 29 (November 1977): 123-60. One important study has dealt with the 
issue of reform versus orthodoxy in American Judaism as reflected in three 
publications. Kathryn T. Theus, "From Orthodoxy to Reform: Assimilation and 
the Jewish-English Press of Mid-Nineteenth Century America," American Jour- 
nalism 1 (Winter 1984): 15-26. 

10. Ira Rosen waike, "An Estimate and Ansilysis of the Jewish Population of the 
United States," Publication of the American Jewish Historical Society 50 (September 
1960): 23-67. 

11. The American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati has a card catalogue of the 
contents of Bush's pap>er. An excellent description of the publication is by Guido 
Kisch in "Israels Herold: The First Jewish Weekly in New York," Historia Judaica 
2 (October 1940): 65-84. 



he obtained work from the most important thinkers in Europe, 
and his American contributors included the leading lights of 
American Jewish life. With the twelfth issue, he gave up. 

The second Jewish weekly, the first in English, was the 
Asmonean, begun in 1849.^^ It was edited by Robert Lyon, born 15 
January 1810, the second son of Wolfe Lyon, a London trades- 
man.^^ He received an education for commerce and business, al- 
though he maintained an interest in science. Before age eighteen 
he had written essays that were published in local periodicals on 
the island of Jersey. Some years later, he moved to London, 
started a business, married Dinah Mawson of London, and 
became a member of the Maiden Lane Synagogue.^* He served 
as treasurer of the congregation. In 1840 he and another Jew, 
Baron de Goldsmid, presented a congratulatory address to 
Queen Victoria on her marriage. In 1844 the Lyons emigrated to 
New York. They had seven children; one daughter died in 1852.^^ 

Lyon established an umbrella factory but could not make a 
steady living in that field. At the same time, he thought he could 
help tihe "Jewish cause" by publishing a weekly. Lyon's essays 
had appeared in publications in England.^^ He knew English 
well but lacked any kind of background in Hebrew and German, 
the two languages of the Jewish community of the time. Shortly 
after Lyon's arrival in America, Leeser ran two of Lyon's essays 
and an article about uniting American Jewry .^^ 

While Lyon had no experience publishing a paper, he be- 
lieved his friendships in the Hebrew Benevolent Association 
and membership in leading synagogues would help him secure 
many contributors to his enterprise. (One could belong to more 
than one synagogue.) Financial support would depend on circu- 
lation and advertising, although Lyon acknowledged that his 

"When the first ru- 
dimentary survey 
of American Jewry 
was undertalcen in 
1877... the totai 
[number of Jews] 
was put at 280,000." 
- Gartner, 
"immigration and 
American Jewry." 

12. Hyman Grinstein, "The Asmonean: The First Jewish Weekly in New York," 
Journal of Jewish Bibliography 1 (April 1939): 62-71. 

13. He lost a brother, a property owner, in a 22 June 1851 San Frandsco fire 
known as "the Sixth Great Fire." Fragjnents of Lyon's life are described in 
"Death of Mr. Robert Lyon," Asmonean, 12 March 1858, 172. 

14. According to their advertisements in the paper, Dinah Mawson 's brothers 
were in New York as early as 1839, when their fur manufacturing business 
began, but they turn up first in the 1840-41 New York City Directory. A brother, 
Edward, married Ellen Phillips of St. Hellers Jersey, at his father's home in 
London, according to "Married," Asmonean, 14 Mardi 1851, 166. She may have 
moved to England with the children after Lyon's death, as nothing more of her 
life can be learned. 

15. "Death," Asmonean, 24 September 1852, 222. The extremely meticulous ge- 
nealogist. Rabbi Malcolm Stem, in his book, first American Jewish Families, noted 
only two male children, Gerald and Edmund Robert. However, Lyon addressed 
his final words to the oldest son, William, then age fifteen, according to "Death 
of Mr. Robert Lyon," Asmonean, 12 March 1858, 172. 

16. "Death of Mr. Robert Lyon," Asmonean, 12 March 1858, 172. 

17. "Lecturing and Lecturers, No. 1," Occident 4 (May 1846): 90-96; "Lecturing 
and Lecturers," Occident 4 (September 1846): 293-97; and "The Convention, Its 
Design, Its Utility," Occident 7 (September 1849): 320-23. 

82 AJ /Spring 1990 

paper had a patron." His paper was originally intended for the 
Jewish population of New York City but later circulated through- 
out the country." 

Lyon was active civically and politically. The New York City 
Directory of 1840-41 lists Lyon's occupation as assistant city 
inspector with an office at city hall. The following year, a John 
Hillyer is listed as street inspector, and conceivably they met 
there. The two tean\ed up in March 1852 to start the New York 
Mercantile Journal, a weekly focusing on business.^ In the Jewish 
community, Lyon was a vice-president of the Hebrew Benevo- 
lent Society. He had connections to political figures locally and 
nationally. Henry Clay, General Lewis Cass, and Daniel Webster 
all knew him. 

Robert Lyon, never a hardy man, suffered a stroke at work on 
10 March 1858, and died three hours after reaching his home. His 
funeral, the largest since that of editor and diplomat Mordecai 
Manual Noah, included six rabbis, four synagogue presidents, 
the Associate United States District Attorney, officers of the 
Hebrew Benevolent Society, leading merchants of the Jewish 
community, and the "most respectable Christian fellow citi- 
zens."^^ Burial took place at the Beth Olom Cemetery in Cypress 
Hills, at which Rabbi Samuel Myer Isaacs, later the editor of his 
own weekly in New York, presided. After his death, his widow 
may have returned to England, where her father lived, for no 
listing appears in the New York City directories under her name 
or as his widow. 

The first issue of the Asmonean appeared on 19 October 1849.^ 

18. "Cliquism and Its Advocates," Asmonean, 26 December 1851, 92: "[The pa- 
tron] is far too liberal to entrench upon otir rights; he knows his position; and 
though grateful for the aid rendered, we here publicly acknowledge it; for his 
councel [sic] has been readily given when sought by us, but wise and intelligent, 
he never intrudes an opinion unasked." 

19. 'To Our Subscribers," Asmonean, 26 October 1849, 1. 

20. Lyon announced that he and John Hillyer would publish a newspaper every 
Tuesday and Friday afternoon, from 140 Nassau Street, New York. Its cost was 
five dollars per year in advance. Called the New York Mercantile Journal and 
Financial Recorder, it would be devoted to the financial insurance and commer- 
cial interests of America. It would have thirty-two columns, eight pages, of 
quarto size, bound, and could be used as a standard reference work. It would 
be a review of the news of the day, with reports of decisions on mercantile ques- 
tions contested in the United States courts. 'It will eschew politics of every 
shade and hue." Also printed in French, the idea was to make the publication 
"an available medium for merchants in the dty to communicate by the steamer 
of the following day with their correspondents in Europe." See advertisements 
in the Asmonean, 2 March 1852, 201, and 26 March 1852, 225. The Mercantile 
Journal later added and Railroad Gazette to its title. The only holdings are from 
19 July to 16 August 1853, and from 5 May to 1 June 1858, in the New York 
Historical Society. 

21. "Funeral of Robert Lyon, Esq.," Asmonean, 19 March 1858, 180. 

22. "Death of Mr. Robert Lyon," Asmonean, 12 March 1858, 172. Grinstein dated 
it to 1 9 October, but the 26 October, as well as all others, was for the week ending 
on that date. The pagination of the Asmonean is irregular, and two systems 
prevail. First, page numbers begin with the first month of each year; then from 



Thereafter it appeared every Friday, from its owner's address.^ 
The masthead, large and elaborate, consisted of Jewish symbols: 
In the center was an escutcheon, displaying figures representing 
the tribes of Israel — a wolf of Benjamin, a bull of Manasseh, and 
a lion of Judah. The Asmonean took its name from the surname of 
Mattathias and his sons, who led the successful revolt of the Jews 
against the Greeks in the second century B.C.^* Subtitled "A 
family journal of commerce, politics, religion, and literature, de- 
voted to the interests of the American Israelites," it ran a colunm 
of "Patronage and Support" listing the names of ministers, pre- 
siding officers of nine New York congregations, and prominent 
Jews from several cities. The peculiar motto, 'Two are better 
than one, and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken," referred 
to uniting American Jewry and was taken from Ecclesiastes, 
chapter 4, verses 9 and 12. In the third volume it was simplified 
with the removal of the symbols and the addition of a simple slo- 
gan, "Knowledge is power."^ The design on the first issues was 
copied from the Irish-American, which appeared only a number 
of months before the Asmonean was launched .^^ 

When the Asmonean began, only the Occident served as com- 
petition. But competition it was, a fact not lost on the Philadel- 
phia editor, Isaac Leeser, who welcomed the paper but warned 
the new editor: 

We hope that the enterprise will meet with due en- 
couragement; at the same time, we do not hesitate in 
saying that it is more likely to result in a heavy 
pecuniary loss to the proprietors. Our own experi- 
ence in publishing for our people is something like a 
long series of disappointments; and had it not been 
that we needed not the smallest portion of the pro- 
ceeds for our personal support, we should have long 
since have relinquished the editorial chair. We are 
always sorry to see an inexperienced person expose 
himself to the disappointments which are sure to 
await him; we know what it is to battle with a public 
who do not care to hear from one, no matter what he 
has to say, and we therefore had hoped that for the 
present no more candidates for disappointment would 
have presented themselves. We dissuaded Mr. Bush 
from commencing "Israel's Herald" [sic]; he never- 
theless went on, printed twelve numbers, and then 

16 May 1850 through 25 July 1852, each issue additionally sports a "Whole No." 

23. Robert Lyon began at 140 Nassau Street, then moved to 83 Gold Street as of 
9 April 1852, then to 7 Cedar Street, then to 112 Pearl Street. 

24. "The Asmonean," Asmonean, 1 November 1849, 13. "The last reigiung 
princes amongst the Children of Israel were Asmoneans." 

25. Asmonean, 1 November 1849, 13, and "Unity is Strength," Asmonean, 24 
Augvist 1852, 173. Lyon changed the motto and explained the withdrawal of the 
first motto in the editorial. 

26. Grinstein, "The Asmonean," 63. 

"Two are better 
than one; because 
they have a good 
reward for their 
labor. ... And if 
one prevail against 
him, two shall 
withstand him; 
and a threefold 
cord is not quiclcly 


AJ/Spring 1990 

"The most radical 
innovations in Ju- 
daism occured af- 
ter the first Jews 
arrived in the 
United States from 
"From Orthodoxy 
to Reform: Assimi- 
lation and the Jew- 
ish-English Press 
of Mid-Nineteenth 
Century America." 

Stopped, having found that we had advised him 

correctly. We wish Mr, Lyons [sic] a better success, 

though we fear the contrary,^' 

Despite the gloomy warning, the Asmonean endured to become 

Leeser's competition and survived for almost a decade, until 

Lyon's death. 

In the first issue of the Asmonean, Lyon noted his intention to 
promote a congregational Union of Israelites of the United 
States. He also wanted to disseminate information about or 
relating to the Jewish people. All foreign and domestic news 
would receive ample coverage, "up to the latest moment prior to 
going to press." Lyon also promised to comment on events "tem- 
perately." But the most important reason to publish was for "a 
Unity of action between'the learned and the philanthropic of 
Israel." He sought to diffuse "amongst our brethren a better 
knowledgeof principles of the Jewish faith." Further, the editor 
wrote, "The paper comes into existence perfectly unfettered and 
unpledged ... for it is the duty of all Israelites to further every 
understanding having a tendency to dissipate existing preju- 
dices, and induce a better understanding of the true interests of 
Israel as a religious brotherhood." He acknowledged his lack of 
experience as a journalist, but said, "We are not deficient of zeal 
in our desire of preserving our national integrity, and averting 
the curse of infidelity from our people." He made arrangements 
for correspondents and sought to find them in each section of the 
country, although he never could pay them for their contribu- 

Politics occupied a significant place in the Asmonean, un- 
doubtedly as a result of Lyon's long-standing interest in it. In the 
fifties, the paper had opposed Know-Nothingism, and in 1856 it 
supported James Buchanan for the presidency and Fernando 
Wood for mayor of New York.^* When a reader wrote about 
Lyon's rather outspoken preference for various political offices, 
Lyon responded that his paper was a commercial, religious, and 
literary as well as a political organ. He maintained that part of his 
duty was to inform the Jewish public of his stand in political 
matters.^' It may very well be that periodic advertisements from 
Tammany Hall and the City of New York had much to do with 
the Asmonean' s forthright political statements and bias towards 
the Democrats.^" Lyon believed Jews could only be Democrats: 
"Israelites are Democrats of old; and if they read their history at- 

27. Occident 7 (October 1849): 379. 

28. Editorial endorsements of Buchanan, Breckenridge (for vice-president), and 
Wood (for mayor and then governor) ran in every issue from "National 
Democratic Nominations," Asmonean, 25 July 1856, 116, to "The Contest for the 
Presidency," Asmonean, 31 October 1856, 20, in which a column was devoted to 
a state-by-state tally of electoral votes. 

29. 'Tolitics, or, No-Politics," Asmonean, 15 August 1856, 140. 

30. In "Charter Election, Etec. 1," Asmonean, 13 November 1857, 5, he endorsed 
individuals for dty and county elections. He not only endorsed Wood for mayor. 



tentarively they never will be anything but Democrats."^^ The 
paper supported Fernando Wood for vice-president of the United 
States when the Democratic convention was in Cincinnati. The 
New York mayor would unite the conflicting votes of the party, 
Lyon noted.^^ Coincidentally, corporate notices from the city of 
New York ran in the Asmonean, as did city ordinances.^ 

Lyon took an active role in politics and reported on elections 
by wards and districts within the city, too, unlike other editors 
of Jewish publications. He openly supported Emanuel B. Hart, 
who was returned to Congress in 1850, and voting results were 
given to show how Hart beat two candidates by receiving thirty- 
four hundred of the thirty-six hundred votes cast.^ A brief biog- 
raphy of Hart was printed. Lyon noted in an editorial that Hart 
had been a good representative; his being Jewish had nothing 
whatever to do with the editor's support. 

Local and state acts were given in their entirety in six- or eight- 
point type and without leading. A story of a rally for Charter 
Amendments for City Reform received play, and the amend- 
ments were printed, again in small type. For all the wards in the 
city, Lyon listed locations where voting would take place, whether 
it be at a candy, crockery, hardware, shoe, or cigar store.^ He fa- 
cilitated the workings of a democratic government in the same 
way that a regular city paper did. 

But Lyon's interest in politics did not stop at the state level. 
He knew and corresponded with Daniel Webster. When Web- 
ster died, Lyon turned the column rules throughout the paper as 
a symbol of mourning for him.^* He also ran a story from the 
Boston Courier on the last hours of Mr. Webster. In addition, he 
composed an obituary but did not mention anything pertaining 
to Mr. Webster's relationship with the Jewish community. Lyon 
referred to the deceased as "lofty spirit" and "noble-hearted 
secretary." To cap off the issue he produced a chronology of 
Webster's life. 

Jewish communal and foreign news, or "intelligence" as it 
was called, was probably the main drawing card of the As- 
monean. Lyon covered the news of the participation of Jews as 

but also for governor of the Alms House and endorsed six supervisors including 
one William M. Tweed. 

31. "Politics or No-Politics," Asmonean, 15 Augvist 1856, 140. 

32. "Fernando Wood for Vice President," Asmonean, 23 May 1856, 45. 

33. "Corporation Notices," Asmonean, 6 June 1856, 59. They listed all ordinances, 
including those pertaining to express wagons, carts, dirt cart men, drays, public 
porters, hackney coach owners, and proprietors of livery stables, as well as the 
"complete book" in the mayor's office for "mvmidpal abuses of all kinds." 

34. "Emanual B. Hart Returned for Congress," Asmonean, 8 November 1850, 21 . 
Lyon reported on how New York City residents voted for Congress, singling 
out the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Districts. In the Third District there were 
five wards, and Hart won handily in each but the Third Ward. 

35. "Rally for the Charter Amendments and Secure Substantial Qty Reform; 
Places At Which Tickets Can Be Procured," Asmonean, 3 June 1853, 53. 

36. "Brief Memoir of Mr. Webster," Asmonean, 29 October 1852, 18. 

• • • • • 

"Even Jewish rab- 
bis who supported 
democratic riahts 
and religious lib- 
erty could not 
agree on the ex- 
tent to which the 
traditional aspects 
of Jewishness, as 
a 'people set 
apart,' could be 
realized, k was out 
of that controversy 
that the Jewisii 
press in the United 
States was bom." 
- Theus, 
"From Ortiiodoxy 
to Reform. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

• • • • • 

"The advertise- 
ments of the priest, 
the doctor, and the 
lawyer appear as 
soon as tne immi- 
grant community 
attains any size. 
- Robert Park, The 
Inwnlgrant Press 
and Its Control. 

chaplains in legislative bodies. For exan\ple, when Rabbi Julius 
Eckman opened by prayer a legislative body in Virginia in 1850, 
and when Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise served as chaplain of both 
houses of the state legislature of New York, Lyon duly re- 
ported — ^and with pride.^^ Additionally, some news of a general 
nature, an occasional fictional story, book reviews, letters to the 
editor, editorials, and translations and excerpts from other jour- 
nals filled the reading columns. 

At times the Asmonean stooped to the sensational. For ex- 
ample, Lyon was not above using sensational stories about 
violent deaths. He reprinted a story from the Cleveland Plain 
Dealer that graphically described the atrocious desecration of 
human remains. Students from a "Homeopathic College" nearby 
were thought to bear responsibility for the acts.^* In another 
story, which Leeser never noted in his obituaries in the Occident, 
one Jacob Lehman of Philadelphia was killed, his body muti- 
lated, and dismembered. Again, the gory details made for lively 

Advertising grew immensely in the first two years. By the end 
of the second full year, the Asmonean was carrying six full pages 
of advertising, three at the beginning and three at the end of each 
twelve-page issue.*° A discount of 20 percent was allowed to 
secretaries of congregations, societies, agents, postmasters, and 
others obtaining subscribers and remitting subscriptions. Un- 
like other publications of this era, however, Lyon accepted non- 
Jewish advertising.*^ The Asmonean ran ads for roach traps, 
Lyons (not related) Essence of Jamaica Ginger for dyspepsia, 
gout, rheumatism, cramp, cholera, and cholic, and Lyon's (not 
related) Kathairion for growth and embellishment of hair.*^ 
Other products included Dr. T. Finchei's Vegetable Eureka Plas- 
ter, Dr. Rogers' Compound Syrup of Loverwort, Tar, and Chan- 
chalagua. Dr. Drake's Chinese Hair Cream, Amidon Fashion- 
able Hatter, Dr. Houghton's Pepsin, and Marsh's Universal Joint 
and Self- Adjusting Tniss.*^ Among his first and most steady 
advertisers was Mawson and Bros. Furs of New York and 
Philadelphia — and later San Francisco — relatives of Mrs. Lyon. 
Another advertiser was J.M. Jackson, a New York printer of 
Hebrew and English materials.** 

37. "Theological and Philosophical," Asmonean, 8 October 1852, 246-47; and 
"Prayer I," Asmonean, 30 January 1852, 133. (Dr. Morris J. Raphall was the first 
Jew to deliver a prayer in Congress.) 

38. "Atrocious Desecration of Human Remains," Asmonean, 27 February 1852, 

39. " Shocking Murder near Philadelphia," Asmonean, 16 February 1852, 149. 

40. See, for example, Asmonean, 17 October 1851. 

41. The rates were as follows: business cards, six dollars per year, or with a 
subsdption eight dollars; fifty cents for first insertion up to eight lines, with 
eight cents per line thereafter, or for one month or longer, six cents per line. 

42. Asmonean, 12 March 1852, 208. 

43. Asmonean, 21 November 1851, 55. 

44. Asmonean, 16 November 1849, 24. 



Lyon seemed to give advertisers their money's worth in his 
paper. Articles praising the advertised products pervaded all 
parts of the editorial content. He even ran articles in praise of the 
sponsors, followed by advertisements of the "famed" products 
on subsequent pages, a typical general practice of the time. 

The Asmonean carried numerous items of special note to 
synagogues and societies of New York and elsewhere; however, 
most seemed limited to influential organizations, especially 
those advertising on occasion for a lay reader or a Hebrew 
teacher. Lyon paid particular attention to groups that paid for 
notices of their meetings. Because such payments afforded 
another source of profit, the Asmonean adopted this as policy for 
a time.*^ Unfortunately, Lyon could not continue the policy, and 
unpaid notices found their way into the paper again. 

Actually, getting communal news into the editorial columns 
sometimes proved problematic. It seemed as if Lyon were al- 
ways trying to build up the financial side of the paper. In 1850 
Lyon announced that notices or reports could appear only if 
they either appealed to Jews as a whole or were paid for, but he 
relented not long after that and changed his policy, probably 
because of a lack of material, and printed anything he received. 
Not long after that, however, he reverted to the original policy 
and allowed only paid notices.*^ The end result of this shifting of 
policy was a period of incomplete reporting in the paper of 
Jewish communal activity in New York. 

The Asmonean sold for three dollars per year "invariably in 
advance"; it never raised its price.*^ Circulation always seemed 
to trouble Lyon. He tried to appeal to a large audience with many 
interests. Regularly the Asmonean ran a blurb that it represented 
two hundred thousand Jews in America and included among its 
subscribers "a large and increasing body of Unitarians, besides 
a great number of the German Citizens of the United States."** 
Lyon claimed many subscribers in New York as well as out of 
town.*' While circulation was difficult to determine, the fact that 
he managed to fill half his paper with advertisements must have 
meant a large number of readers, or at least a subscription list 
substantial enough to convince his advertisers. The paper proba- 
bly received more income from advertising than circulation. 

"The Gennans 
probably have 
more societies 
tlian otiier immi- 
grant groups ex- 
cept the Jews." 
- Parte, The 
Immigrant Press. 

45. Asmonean, 2 May 1856, 20; and Asmonean, 9 May 1856, 28. 

46. Asmonean, 12 July 1850, 92; 'To Correspondents," Asmonean, 14 February 
1851, 129; and "Notice to Subscribers," Asmonean, 3 October 1851, 213. 

47. Asmonean, 24 October 1851, 1. Also, Leeser noted in his magazine that the 
price of the Asmonean would be three dollars. See "The Asmonean," Occident 7 
(October 1849): 379. 

48. Asmonean, 25 April 1851, 7. In another issue titled 'To Advertisers," he noted 
that Germans, Christians, and many of the two hundred thovisand Jews in 
America were in the audience. Asmonean, 3 March 1852, 21. 

49. Lyon noted that the new postage law allowed his Asmonean to go to any part 
of the Union, "California and Oregon included," for one cent or six and one- 
foiirth cents per quarter, or twenty-five cents per year if paid in advance. 

88 AJ /Spring 1990 

The paper apf)eared to be financially sound through most of 
its existence. However, no business records of the paper are 
extant; thus, one can only surmise its prosperity. The important 
thing to remember about Lyon is that he succeeded economi- 
cally, but he also had a twice-weekly newspaper dealing with 
finance and conrmnerce. The advertisers in that publication proba- 
bly gave him some goodwill business for his Jewish newspaper, 
too. To that end, for example, the last issue, of eight pages, 
carried five full pages of advertising, minus one-third of a 
colunrn for editorial material relating to the ads. Most issues 
filled the first three pages with advertisements, for Jewish boar- 
dings, seminaries, Hebrew books, insurance (fire, marine, life), 
baniks, patent medicines, clothing, liquors, looking glasses, 
shipping, express companies, railroads, storage, musical instru- 
ments, guns and ammunition, legal counsellors, and brokers. 

Lyon continually rebuked those who subscribed to his paper 
on credit or who never got around to paying him. Apparently he 
willingly sent the paper to those who had not sent in subscrip>- 
tion money in order to keep their names on the precious lists for 
advertisers.^" Some never paid for even the first year's subscrip- 
tion, yet he sent them the paper for years. People also received 
the paper for a couple of years and then stopped taking it, 
without settling with Lyon. "We do not complain, such treat- 
ment is always the fortune of papers issued on credit, and yet our 
terms are cash."^^ He thought of publishing the names of delin- 
quents as the New York Tribune published daily receipts. He 
threatened to strike from the subscription list all who were in 
arrears for more than the current year, and in the future not to 
send the paper to anyone who did not comply with his regula- 
tions — "Payment in advance."^^ In answer to letters of praise 
and encouragement, he wrote that obtaining five, ten, or twenty 
subscribers would do more than a "whole volume of praise," 
and he asked readers to circulate the work. He also offered a 
bargain: for every five subscriptions remitted, he would send six 
copies, the last presumably to the solicitor. 

From the outset Lyon recognized that the majority of the 
Hebrew population in America was German-speaking, and, 
therefore, a portion of the paper had to be in that language.^^ He 
felt impaired because he could not effectively reach a great mass 
of the German-speaking population. He thought he needed a 
German supplement, in order to attract the large and ever-in- 
creasing number of German-speaking Jews in the city and 

50. "Qiquism and its Advocates," Asmonean, 26 December 1851, 92. 

51. "Editing a Paper," Asmonean, 10 September 1852, 197. 

52. 'To Our Subscribers," Asmonean, 24 December 1852, 112. He threatened to 
stop sending papers to those two years in arrears, and later announced no more 
credit for subscribers; he would supply the paper only when it was paid for. See 
Asmonean, 10 September 1852, 197. 

53. "The Asmonean in German," Asmonean, 30 May 1851, 44. 



around the country. He knew little German, however, and found 
it necessary to hire an assistant for the task. Finally, in 1851, after 
repeated pledges, he issued one supplement and promptly 
scuttled it.^ But advertisements printed in German continued to 
appear frequently .^^ In 1856, he printed sections in German in a 
few issues, titled Der Asmonean. This creation seemed improp>- 
erly timed, for most German-speaking Jews interested in the 
subject matter were reading either Die Deborah from Cincinnati 
by Rabbi Isaac Wise or the Sinai from Baltimore by Rabbi David 
Einhom. Advertisements in German ran frequently in the As- 
monean, but these came mainly from business firms, such as 
American Express, which probably could not estinwte Lyon's 
German-speaJking readers.^^ Lyon also added a German depart- 
ment, and at times ran the editorial page in German, heading it 
"Der Asmonean" in medieval typescript.^^ 

In order to create a more objective, systematic, quantitative, 
and generalizable description of the kinds of articles and edito- 
rials the Asmonean carried, I conducted a content analysis of a 
sample issues. I chose the first and last volumes of the Asmonean, 
then randomly selected five other volumes to sample. I then 
attached random numbers from a table to every issue in those 
volumes. The final sample included 3,987 items. 

I used the same six coding categories developed by Marion T. 
Marzolf in her pioneering work on the Danish-language press, 
but created three additional categories appropriate to this study.^ 
The unit of analysis was the entire article or item. I defined each 
unit of analysis in writing, then trained two coders in using the 
instrument and the category system. I told them to code content 
as it appeared, rather than as the editor may have intended it. 
Nevertheless, coders frequently could not agree, so I elaborated 
the original definitions in order to improve reliability ratios.^' 
Coders classified each article into one of the following nine pol- 
ynary categories: 
1 . Surveillance of the environment: collecting useful information 

"In 1855 a vhriolic 
exchange was tak- 
ing place in tlie 
press. Orthodox 
editors blamed 
tendencies toward 
assimilation on the 
changes in Juda- 
ism, and reform 
editors blamed 
Christian mission- 

- Theus, 
"From Orthodoxy 
to Reform 

54. "Our Paper," Asmonean, 27 June 1851, 76ff. 

55. See, for example, Asmonean, 23 January 1852, 126. 

56. See, for example, Asmonean, 16 January 1852, 117. The German advertise- 
ments stretched to fill one page plus one column. He carried English transla- 
tions of the German immediately below each article, including one story ending 
with a list of persons' names typeset in the German and En^ish alphabets. 

57. Asmonean, 30 May 1856, 50. 

58. Marion Tuttle Marzolf, The Danish-Language Press in America (New York: 
Amo, 1977). 

59. The intercoder agreement was 91 percent. The formula used to calculate 
intercoder reliability was Holsti's: CR = 2M/flMl+N2), where M equals the 
number of coding decisions in which there is agreement, and Nl and N2 
represent the total number of coding decisions by coder 1 and coder 2, respec- 
tively. Ole R. Holsti, Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities 
(Reading, Mass.: Addison- Wesley, 1969). See also, Guido H. Stempel III, "Content 
Analysis," in Research Methods in Mass Communication, ed. Guido H. Stempel III 
and Bruce H. Westley (Englewood Qiffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1981), 19-31. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

"Fully one-third of 
the articles pn a 
sample of the As- 
monean] called for 
religious liberw, 
cultural inclusive- 
ness, and polKical 
participation by 
Jews, oolh at 

"From Orthodoxy 
to Reform. 

for the immigrant in the new society. Hard news. 

2. Correlation of the parts of the society: mediating between the 

two cultures by interpreting the inunigrant's role to him. 
Serving as a forum. Publishers needed to have a way of edi- 
torializing, sometimes by letters airing their views. 

3. Transmission of the social heritage from one generation to the 

next: passing on the older culture or the American ethnic 
group identity. Heritage-culture. A lesson. 

4. Entertainment: amusing without regard to particular effect. 

5. Accomodation experience of the ethnic group: analyzing cul- 
tural and religious factors that aid or hinder assimilation and 
evaluating the group's standing over time. Help immigrant 
accommodate to American life. 

6. American press histofy: identifying trends for the period of 
study, history in relation to the Jewish press. Comparisons to 
other ethnic press developments. Includes circulation no- 
tices, prospectuses, other information about publications. 

7. Community building: reporting on other communities in a 
way that creates a feeling of a larger community, that en- 
hances the feeling of "we're not just a little isolated group." A 
way of pointing with pride and bolstering up. 

8. Non-local hard news of the Jewish community. 

9. Other (includes non-Jewish material). 

As Table 1 shows, there is a marked change of in the types of 
items Lyon ran in the Asmonean. In particular, a steady progres- 
sion can be discerned from emphasis on Jewish instruction and 
transmission of the culture to offering news of a non-Jewish na- 
ture. Lyon emphasized transmission initially. He also covered 
the news in volumes 1 and 2 (1849-50) more comprehensively 
than at any other period. He apparently had a backlog of hard 
news items. However, he quickly learned how to use a scissors, 
for by the second volume he had dramatically increased non- 
Jewish items from other sources. He covered the theatrical scene 
and literary life of New York, taking material from foreign 
publications such as the Edinburgh Review, Les Matinees du Samdei, 
Blackwood's Magazine, and Mainzer Zeitung. Material from do- 
mestic publications such as the New York Presbyterian and Godey's 
Lady's Book appeared frequently, too. 

Also almost doubling was non-local news from the Jewish 
community, although transmission still had many items. By 
volume 9 there was a virtually equal number of non-local news 
items from the Jewish community and non-Jewish items. The 
shift from the first volume's combination of transmission, sur- 
veillance, and correlation to non-local community news and 
non-Jewish items was complete. The accommodation category 
swelled in volume 9, possibly because of the impact of a contro- 
versial book on that topic that was discussed in Lyon's paper. 
Volume 1 saw even more non-Jewish items and non-local news 
from the Jewish community, more than five hundred . By volume 

Reed 91 

Table 1 

Content of Articles 

in the Asmonean 

Volumes Sampled 

Type of Content 













































Press Notes 








Local Community 








Non-local Comm. 








Non-Jewish Items 








Totals: 689 619 625 699 412 377 486 

14, non-Jewish items exceeded non-local news from the Jewish 
community, with local community items coming in third, but 
with fewer than half the items. By volume 15, non-Jewish items 
dominated, followed by non-local news from the Jewish com- 
munity, which has less than half the number of items. News of 
the local community and transmission are nearly the same. 
Finally, in volume 17, the total dominance of non-Jewish items 
can be seen. Such items appear almost three times as often as 
non-local news from the Jewish community, the second largest 

As time went on, Lyon may have felt more comfortable in 
America and may have wanted to share material of interest to a 
very wide audience. His readers were more comfortable as well, 
although Lyon sought a non-Jewish audience. Surely, if the Uni- 
tarians and Germans were reading his publication, such mate- 
rial would appeal to them more than the strictly Jewish material. 
Perhaps, too, such material served as part of an economic strat- 
egy, in his attempt to attract more advertisers. 

Coders also examined a nonrandom sample of the i4smon£an's 
editorials, to see whether they showed the same patterns of cov- 
erage as the news. They examined eight lead editorials in each 
year that the Asmonean was published. As Table 2 suggests, the 
editorials do not show any particular trend over time. In the 
sample there is only one editorial on non-Jewish subjects, a|> 
pearing in 1851, despite the increasing number of news items in 
that category. Lyon apparently viewed his editorial mission as 
very Jewish, though his editorials did cover topics that would 
have interested non-Jewish readers, too, such as divorce, unity, 
religious education, cemeteries, and abolition of the death pen- 
alty. Non-local news from the Jewish community followed at 20 
jjercent, and offered information about Jews in other places: 
China, England, Switzerland, Palestine, and Afghanistan. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

Table 2 
Content of Selected Editorials in the Asmonean 

"For some German 
Jews, the German 
milieu in Anierica 
was so fully satis- 
fying that tney 
more or less aban- 
doned their ances- 
tral Judaism." 

- Gartner, 
"ImniigratJon and 
American Jewry." 

Years, 1849-58 

Type of Content 







































Press Notes 







Local Community 







Non-Local Comm. 








Non-Jewish Items 


During the first four years of the Asmonean, correlation sto- 
ries, relating the parts of society and interpreting the experience 
for the immigrant, accounted for 28 percent of the editorials. In 
Lyon's paper, this often meant conunent on a political or news- 
worthy event. Other times, Lyon would comment on the doings 
of local societies and organizations. An even larger category, at 
31 percent, was accommodation. 

During the second four years in print, the Asmonean pretty 
much maintained the pattern it had established during the first 
four years under study. Editorials commented on the success of 
Jews' Hospital, the promptness of the New York Fire Depart- 
ment in responding to a local fire, the Ladies Fair at B'nai 
Jeshurun to aid the poor, and the devoted local Jewish citizen 
whose hard work benefited the community. Correlation ac- 
counted for 22 percent of all editorial topics; non-local commu- 
nity news and transmission for 44 percent. The transmission or 
teaching function, in part, fulfilled Lyon's promise for his paper. 

Lyon, ever the Englishman, wrote repeatedly on the Jew Bill 
in England, which was rejected time and again in Parliament but 
which came up for passage regularly. Every term the House of 
Commons passed it, but the House of Lords saw to its defeat. 
This bill would have abolished from the oath the words "on the 
faith of a Christian.""' Jews found this an unacceptable mixing of 
church and state. Thus, one can see Lyon's ability to write 
editorials with news pegs. Moreover, he even editorialized on 
the president of the United States.^^ 

Lyon from the beginning wanted to use his publication as a 
vehicle for establishing unity, at first among New York's diverse 
Jewish population and, later, nationally. He called for a census 

60. See for excunple, "The Jews of England," Asmonean, 29 October 1852, 18-19. 
See also, "The Oath's Bill," Asmonean, 9 April 1858, 204. 

61. Asmonean, 6 March 1857, 164, for remarks on Buchanan's inaugural address. 



of the Israelites in the United States, asking trustees and officers 
of congregations and societies throughout the country to furnish 
particulars about their associations, names of of f icers, nun\ber of 
members, and so forth." His Orthodox background led him, like 
Leeser, to the inevitable conclusion that a Beth Din, a national 
ecclesiastical authority, would be the best method to achieve his 

"Unity is Strength," wrote Lyon. While regretting the lack of 
a reliable count of the number of Jews in America, or even of New 
York City, Lyon noted announcements from societies in the city. 
He found that "The public are astounded at the numerous list of 
its members"; one society, only fifteen months old, had three 
hundred. B'nai B'rith had seven hundred New York members. 
"We doubt if the majority of these p)ersons are members of the 
other friendly institutions," Lyon wrote. There were nine lodges, 
with fifteen hundred members in Cincinnati, Baltimore, Phila- 
delphia, and New York, and B'nai B'rith was only eight years old 
then." Furthermore, Lyon believed that the B'nai B'rith would 
continue to flourish "until it counts its supporters by thousands 
instead of hundreds." He praised the bonds binding member to 
member, the principles and values of the religion and morality, 
aiding the feeble, helping the afflicted, and guarding the widow 
and orphan. 
Yet he never wanted his newspaper to serve only one group. 
Party is the madness of many. We assume to have an 
opinion aiming at impartiality without deviating to 
the right or the left. We shall express what we think 
fearlessly, granting to others the same unfettered 
right of expression. English by birth, we do not dis- 
avow a latent feeling from respect from the 
institution. . . . American by self-adoption, we are 
strongly imbued with the justice and truth of repub- 
lican principles, indeed we have constantly in mind 
the career of our ancestors, whose course from a 
nomade [sic] tribe to a monarchy was that of a pure 
democracy, pagan history can furnish few examples 
more enduring, in our political aspirations we are re- 
publicans, in our religious faith we are Hebrews, not 
English, or German, Portuguese or Polish, but Jews, 

units of a great aggregate Heretofor [sic], there 

has been too much sectional feeling, dividing congre- 
gations and societies, impeding their healthy action 
upon momentous." 
Lyon spoke out: he wanted unity and peace, the "balms" for the 
evils that had passed. He thought the antagonistic powers 

The great majority 
[of German Jews} 
. . . remained with- 
in Judaism and 
created a vereion 
satisfying to their 
desire for a reli- 
gion which harmo- 
nized intellectually 
with contemporary 
liberalism, ration- 
alism, and histori- 
cal scholarship." 
- Gartner, 
"Immigration and 
American Jewry." 

62. 'To Correspondents," Asmonean, 14 December 1849, 57. 

63. "Unity is Strength," Asmonean, 7 February 1851, 124. 

64. 'The Unity of Judaism," Asmonean, 8 November 1849, 4. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

"By 1690 nearly 
every synagogue 
foundea by Ger- 
man Jews had 
overturned the tra- 
ditions of centu- 
ries and talcen up 
the new way." 

- Gartner, 
"Immigration and 
American Jewry." 

possessed sufficient moral courage to forego the heat inflicted 
on the "body they . . . profess to venerate."*^ 

Lyon made a living by purveying news; he did not obtrude his 
personality on the Asmonean. He felt people would not support 
a "party" organ, and he probably did not have the confidence of 
those knowledgeable about theological matters to call attention 
to himself and thrust his own opinions onto his readers. Editors 
of other antebellum publications going to the Jewish community 
in America subserved the ideas which they wanted to advance. 
As editor of the Asmonean, Lyon wanted to conduct a publication 
for a wide audience. Producing a publication for the benefit of 
one party, he thought, would only cripple the effectiveness of 
that editorial effort. 

Because Lyon appealed to a wider audience, his paper ap- 
pealed to advertisers. He sought to make Jewish readers more 
American by acquiring knowledge about the country they now 
lived in and how it operated. He ran stories about reading ma- 
terial, books, and magazines of his day. His theater reviews and 
reviews of dance and vocal performances appeared frequently. 
He also ran whole pages of market items and prices, including 
pork, lard, and ham." He needed to take in a fair amount of 
money, however, because he paid his editorial workers, colum- 
nists, and translators. 

Lyon had instruction from Mordecai Manual Noah, a su- 
perbly successful editor.^^ The two men engaged in discussions 
about a Noah-Lyon weekly newspaper." However, the newspa- 
per never appeared.^' Lyon advocated community develoj> 
ment, and corrected instances of corruption, deception, or injus- 
tice. Thus it was the Asmonean that led the fight for a Jewish hos- 
pital based on democratic practices, and that repeatedly urged 
the establishment of a Jewish orphan asylum. It was Robert Lyon 
who decried the unnecessary duplication of Jewish charities in 
New York, and who sought Jewish schools. The Asmonean can be 
praised for its public service. 

Surely Lyon had a sense of the role of an editor and journal- 
istically the conception of a newspaper as opposed to a publica- 

65. Albany," Asmonean, 11 October 1850, 1%. 

66. See, for example, Asmonean, 16 July 1852, 105. 

67. Jonathan D. Sama, Jacksonian Jew: The Two Worlds of Mordecai Noah (New 
York: Holmes and Meier, 1981), 128. This book is the definitive treatment of 

68. "News Items: New York," Occident 5 (August 1847): 274. "We are almost 
sure it would result in a pecuniary loss . . . there is as yet no reading Jewish 
public of a great extent in America; from Christians but little support can be 
expected; and the German Jews who are here will hardly encourage any 
publication, even in their own language. Our friends may take our word for it, 
as we have sufficient experience of the extent of support realised, to speak with 
more certainty than they can, of the prospects of any Jewish pubhcation vmder 
present circumstances. Ten years hence it will be different." 

69. Nevertheless Noah may have assisted financially, as Lyon himself hinted. 
Noah probably taught Lyon how to conduct a truly local paper. 

Reed 95 

tion for the dissemination of views. Indeed, Lyon's newspaper 
was truly for a mass audience. The Asmonean reached out to 
readers, to provide leadership in the conununity, a community 
at once assimilating yet recognizing its special place in America. 
Yet Lyon recognized that American Jews had interests outside 
the American Jewish community. Therefore, he determined it 
was feasible to run articles dealing with business, the theater, 
literature, and politics. Lyon developed an excellent financial 
section, perhaps modeled on the "money page" of James Gordon 
Bennett's Herald. He aggressively promoted his advertisers, 
although some advertisements smacked of bad taste, quackery, 
and sensationalism. Certainly the Asmonean looked like the most 
financially successful Jewish publication of the era. Unfortu- 
nately his publication died with him, although for weeks after 
his death his widow pleaded for somebody to buy the paper or 
at least conduct it — to no avail. The paper folded.^" 

70. 'To the Subscribers of the 'Asmonean' and the Jewish Public in General," As- 
monean, 19 March 1858, 180; Asmonean, 26 March 1858, 188; 'To the Subscribers 
of the 'Asmonean' and the Jewish Public in General," and "A Tribute and a 
Consolation," Asmonean, 2 April 1858, 196; 'To the Subscribers of the 'As- 
monean' and the Jewish Public in General," Asmonean, 9 April 1858, 204; 
Asmonean, 16 April 1858, 4; and Asmonean, 14 May 1858, 36. (Numbers 2, 3, and 
4 were missing.) It should be noted that Rabbi Isaac Bondi of Anshe Chesed 
started the Hebrew Leader in 1859, which ran imtil 1874; the early issues are 


How TR Controlled 
Presidential Press Coverage 

Rodger Streitmatter 

Rodger Streitmatter 
is an associate pro- 
fessor in the Scnool 
of Communlcalion 
at the American 
University in Wash- 
ington, D.C. 

NO AMERICAN PRESIDENT HAS played a larger role in insti- 
tutionalizing public relations in the White House than did 
Theodore Roosevelt. Between 1901 and 1909, Roosevelt revolu- 
tionized presidential news coverage by dominating the 
news — and news reporters — through the calculated publicizing 
of his personality, his personal life, and news events he con- 
trived. The larger-than-life Roosevelt radiated publicity and 
became a master press agent for himself and his adnunistration.^ 
And yet Roosevelt's acumen for and success at public rela- 
tions have never been adequately recognized by president-press 
observers, who, instead, have blamed recent presidents for 
allowing public relations to eclipse press relations at the White 
House. Those observers have attributed public relations tech- 
niques such as staged news events, the photo opportunity, the 
calculated timing of announcements, the anonymous source, 
and the manipulation and coercion of the press corps to the ad- 
ministrations of the last half century.^ But all of these techniques 

1 . Two of the reporters who covered Roosevelt discuss his success at attracting 
publicity in their writings. They are Isaac Marcosson, Adventures in Interviewing 
(New York: John Lane, 1920), 85; J.J. Dickinson, "Theodore Roosevelt: Press- 
Agent," Harper's Weekly, 28 September 1907, 1410. 

2. Many works attribute the creation of White House public relations techniques 
to presidents who have served since Theodore Roosevelt. For examples regard- 
ing Dwight D. Eisenhower, see Robert F. Burk, Dwight D. Eisenhower: Hero and 
Politician (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1986), 148-50; Marquis Childs, Eisenhower: Captive 
Hero (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1958), 218-21; Peter Lyon, Eisenhower: Portrait 
of the Hero (Boston: Little, Brown, 1974), 483-84, 511; James E. Pollard, 
"Eisenhower and the Press: The Partial News Vacuum," Journalism Quarterly 33 
(Winter 1976): 3-8; John Tebbel and Sarah Miles Watts, The Press and the 
Presidency: From George Washington to Ronald Reagan (New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1985), 464-76. For examples regarding John F. Kennedy, see Victor 
Lasky, JFK: The Man and the Myth (New York: Macmillan, 1963), 531-35; Michael 
Schudson, Discovering the News (New York: Basic,1978), 171-72; Tebbel and 
Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 476-89. For examples regarding Lyndon 

originated during the Theodore Roosevelt presidency in the first 
decade of this century. 

This article identifies and discusses Theodore Roosevelt's 
public relations techniques, many of which condnue to exist, in 
more sophisticated forms, in today's White House. Concur- 
rently, then, the findings of this article suggest that many of the 
obstacles that members of the presidential press corps face in the 
1990s are not new. For those obstacles were firmly planted at the 
White House a century ago. 

The second half of the nineteenth century was not a period of 
rapid advancement in the president-press relationship. During 
this period, the political parties generally controlled the office of 
the presidency, while the individuals in that office were charac- 
terized by a general level of mediocrity. From the perspective of 
the press, the White House was not an imp>ortant source of news, 
and not a single correspondent regularly covered the Executive 
Mansion.^ Congressmen had been much quicker than presidents 
to recognize the benefits of publicity. So the legislators had, in 
1823, established press galleries in both the Senate and House of 
Representatives.^ The fifty correspondents working in Washing- 
ton learned about the activities of the president second hand, 
through congressmen who met regularly with the president and 
then recalled those meetings for the correspondents gathered in 
the press galleries.^ The president-press relationship had been 

Johnson, see Paul Conkin, Big Daddy from the Pedemcdes (Boston: Twayne, 1986), 
184-86; David Cuthbert, '7ohnson and the Media," in Exploring the Jc^nson 
Years (Aiistin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 214-30; Schudson, Discovering 
the News, 171-72; Alfred Steinberg, Sam ]6hnson's Boy (New York: Macmillan, 
1968), 536; Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 489-500. For examples 
regarding Richard Nixon, see James David Barber, The Pulse of Politics: Electing 
Presidents in the Media Age (New York: W.W. Norton, 1980), 320; James Deakin, 
Straight Stuff— The Reporters, the White House, and the Truth (New York: William 
Morris, 1984), 255-94; Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 500-15; 
Theodore White, The Making of the President 1968 (New York: Signet Books, 
1970), 130. For examples regarding Jimmy Carter, see Michael Baruch Gross- 
man and Martha Joynt Kumar, Portraying the President: The White House and the 
News Media (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1 981 ), 1 1-1 2; Laurence 
H. Shoup, The Carter Presidency, and Beyond (Palo Alto, Calif.: Ramparts Press, 
1980), 67-68, 94; Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 521-31. For 
examples regarding Ronald Reagan, see David S. Broder, Behind the Front Page: 
A Candid Look at How the News Is Made (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 
180-82; William H. Chafe, The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II 
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 478-«0; Bill Plante, "Why We Were 
Shouting at the President," Washington Post, 11 October 1987, 7(H); Tebbel and 
Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 53 1 -53; Steven Weisman, "The President and 
the Press: The Art of Controlled Access," New York Times Magazine, 14 October 
1984, 35-37. 

3. "W.W. Price Dead; Washington Editor," New York Times, 25 October 1931, 28; 
"'Bill' Price Dies after Operation," Washington Star, 25 October 1931, B-12. 

4. Delbert Qark, Washington Dateline (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1941), 15; 
"News of Congress," Washington Evening Star, 21 December 1895, 10. 

5. "News of Congress, A Visit to the Press Galleries in Both Houses," Washington 
Evening Star, 21 December 1895, 16; Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the 
Presidency, 319. 


AJ/Spring 1990 

"Continually op- 
posed by his 
party's chieftains, 
[Roosevelt] could 
not have climbed 
to the Presidency 
without an aKema- 
tive channel to 
power. For TR, the 
channel was the 
new mass-circula- 
tion newspaper, 
exploding on the 
scene in New Yorl( 
City just as he was 
gearing up his ca- 

- James D. Barber, 
The Pulse 
of Politics. 

languishing in virtual dormancy, then, when Roosevelt was 
suddenly thrust into the White House. 

Roosevelt stormed the presidency with the confidence that 
often can be found in a person reared in a wealthy, patridan 
family where all things seem possible. Indeed, before Roosevelt 
turned forty years of age, he already had achieved the impos- 
sible. Despite childhood illness that prevented him from pro- 
gressing through traditional schooling, Roosevelt had overcome 
his physical limitations to earn a Phi Beta Kappa key from 
Harvard and to become a military hero as a Rough Rider 
cavalryman.^ Both his privileged upbringing and his personal 
triumphs inclined Roosevelt toward flexibility and a willingness 
to experiment with new approaches and to forge new paths. 

During his two terms in office, Roosevelt developed a new 
relationship with the fledgling Washington press corps. He re- 
defined that relationship, establishing press relations as a recog- 
nized public function of the chief executive. A master of self-pro- 
motion, he secured his original popularity by his publicity, and 
then he extended and strengthened that popularity through 
more publicity. Above all the other men of his time, Roosevelt 
understood the power and necessity of publicity if a person is to 
achieve substantive results.^ Roosevelt recognized the effect that 
news had on public opinion and then exploited that effect, 
experimenting with innovative public relations techniques by 
which he made journalism work for him. 

Roosevelf s presidency coincided with the American news- 
paper's evolution into a big business.* As publishers invested in- 
creasingly larger sums of capital in newspapers, they felt mount- 
ing pressure to build the large circulations that would attract ad- 
vertisers. Tum-of-the-century publishers, therefore, learned and 
responded to the reality that the masses would rather be enter- 
tained by personal details about people in the news than read 
technical details about statecraft. In covering the White House, 
therefore, newspapers eagerly emphasized human-interest 
material. During the Progressive Era, the trivia from the p)er- 
sonal lives of American presidents became a staple of the White 
House press corps.' 

Roosevelt fit perfectly with the new emphasis on personal 
coverage. Reporters covering the White House — as well as their 
readers — were captivated by Roosevelf s robust, dynamic per- 

6. Roscoe Thayer, Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1919), 126; 
David McCullough, Mornings on Horseback (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1981), 207. 

7. Dickinson, "Theodore Roosevelt," 1410. 

8. J. Lincoln Steffens, "The Business of a Newspaper," Scribner's Magazine 22 
(October 1897): 447; "The Advance of Fifty Years," Editor and Publisher, 5 
October 1901, 4. 

9. This trend is discussed by president-press scholar George Juergens in News 
From the Vfhite House: The Presidential-Press Relationship in the Progressive Era 
(Chicago: Uruversity of Chicago Press, 1981), 7. 



sonality, to the point that who Roosevelt was and how Roosevelt 
lived sometimes overshadowed what he did, although he did 
quite a lot.^° 

Roosevelt recognized that newspapers had changed since the 
Civil War. The era of the powerful publishers, such as James 
Gordon Bennett, Charles Dana, and Horace Greeley, had passed; 
the era of the news reporter had arrived. Roosevelt said: "In our 
country, I am inclined to think that almost, if not quite, the most 
important profession is that of the newspaper man. He wields 
great influence."" On another occasion, Roosevelt said: "It is, of 
course, a truism to say that no other body of our countrymen 
wield as extensive an influence as those who write for the daily 
press and for the other periodicals."^^ 

Roosevelt knew that modem, industrialized, urbanized Amer- 
ica wanted facts, not opinions, and that it wanted those facts pre- 
sented in terse bulletins, not flowery discourse. Roosevelt accu- 
rately gauged the importance of the individual reporter, under- 
standing that, among the masses of the early 19(X)s, news stories 
that appeared on the front page were more effective in molding 
public opinion than were cerebral editorials. If he could use his 
personality to influence how reporters wrote about him on page 
one, it would not matter a great deal what the sages might say 
about his policies on the editorial page. 

Essentially, Roosevelt saw the public's insatiable curiosity 
about the president as a resource, not a threat. That curiosity 
offered Roosevelt the opportunity to dramatize himself, to be- 
come a symbol of the country he was leading into world promi- 
nence. If the minutiae of a president's life were of public interest, 
the president could achieve a mythic status. He could grow 
larger than life and, by so doing, rise to a higher plane than that 
of the people who might challenge him. Roosevelt was aware 
that it would serve him well to flood the newspapers with stories 
about himself, regardless of the degree to which that meant his 
personal life was exposed to public view. Understanding the 
advantages of remaining constantly in the public eye, Roosevelt 
willingly revealed himself — or at least the image he created of 
himself — ^to a curious public. 

Roosevelfs publicity-seeking techniques can best be analyzed 
through the discussion of seven general public relations prin- 
ciples that guided him. Together, these techniques and these 
principles define Roosevelt's strategy in relating to the press 
and, ultimately, to the public. 

First, Roosevelt expanded the boundaries of presidential 
news. The traditional definition of White House news — a daily 

10. David S. Barry, who covered Roosevelt for the New York Sun, discussed this 
point in Forty Years in Washington (Boston: Little, Brown, 1924), 263. 

11. Frank L. Mott and R.D. Casey, Interpretations of Journalism (New York: F.S. 
Crofts, 1937), 472. 

12. Dickinson, 'Theodore Roosevelt," 1410. 

"[Roosevelt] is the 
most adroit, tlie 
most far-seeing, 
the f ranicest, and 
the least secretive 
of the entire guild 
of publicity pro- 
moters upon the 
round earth 
- J.J. Dickinson, 
Press Agent." 

100 AJ /Spring 1990 

chronicle of official activity — was too passive for him. Roosevelt 
was the first occupant of the White House who understood that, 
with imagination, the president could generate news on demand 
and dominate the news by making his personality and personal 
life of compelling public interest. He knew that the president, 
unlike any other government official, can be certain of universal 
newspaper play by merely releasing an item about a routine 
activity in his daily life.^^ 

'Teddy" Roosevelt captured the imagination of the press 
and the public. When he ascended to the presidency at the age of 
forty-three, he became the youngest man ever to enter the White 
House — fifteen years younger than his predecessor. And, unlike 
Grover Cleveland and William McKinley before him, he was 
dynamic, with a great deal of personal magnetism. Roosevelt bi- 
ographer Edmund Morris wrote: 'Teddy Roosevelt is a man of 
such overwhelming physical impact that he stamps himself 
immediately on the consciousness."^* And a contemporary of 
Roosevelt provided a graphic image when he observed: "You go 
to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear 
him talk — and then you go home to wring the personality out of 
your clothes."^^ Roosevelt used the East Room for bouts with 
Japanese jujitsu experts and Chinese wrestlers, and Secret Serv- 
ice men struggled to keep up with him during his daily hikes and 
horseback rides.^^ Such activities translated into compelling 
newspaper copy. 

Typical was a front-page story in the New York Times titled 
"President's Riding Pace Too Fast for Troopers." The story de- 
scribed Roosevelf s visit to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where 
members of his party rode in carriages while the president 
mounted a horse: 

The cavalcade was hardly under way before the 
President started his horse at a sharp trot, and for a 
mile and a half led the regiment a merry chase over the 
battlefield. The pace was so hot that several of the 
troopers were unhorsed, and it was necessary to call 
the ambulance corps into service.'^ 
Today's reader is amazed by the lack of substance in many of the 
stories written about Roosevelt. Non-news clearly had the po- 
tential of garnering prominent coverage, as long as it involved 
the president. A story on the front page of the Washington Post, 

13. George E. Reedy, press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, discusses 
this topic in The Twilight of the Presidency (New York: New American Library, 
1970), 102. 

14. Edmtind Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosexjelt (New York: Coward, McCann 
and Geoghegan, 1979), 20. 

15. Edward Wagenknecht, The Seven Worlds of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: 
Longmans, Green, 1958), 108. 

16. Tliayer, Theodore Roosevelt, 270. 

17. "President's Riding Pace Too Fast for Troopers,"N«u York Times, 7 Septem- 
ber 1903, 1. 



for example, began: 'Tresident Roosevelt passed a quiet Sunday 
with his family at his Sagamore Hill home."" A New York Times 
story was created simply by the White House announcing who 
had visited Roosevelt one day while he was vacationing at 
Oyster Bay: 'Tresident Roosevelt had four guests at luncheon 
this afternoon. They were invited some time ago." All four men 
said their visits were social, not official, but that did not prevent 
the most powerful newspaper in the country from devoting 
thirty column inches of its front page to the minute details.^' 

While Roosevelt never hesitated to publicize his own per- 
sonal activities, his willingness to extend that publicity to his 
children is a testament to his growth as a public relations 
pioneer. When Roosevelt entered the White House, he attempted 
to shield his children from the press. "I want to feel that there is 
a circle drawn about my family," he told reporters. "I ask you to 
respect their privacy."*' If a reporter violated the First Family's 
privacy, he faced Roosevelt's wrath. Just before the family's first 
Thanksgiving in the White House, for example, a New York 
World reporter wrote that the Roosevelt children had tormented 
turkeys being fattened up on the south grounds of the mansion, 
chasing and frightening them. The president ordered that news 
from the White House and executive departments no longer be 
given to the World^^ 

But Roosevelt soon made a 180-degree turn regarding press 
coverage of his family, realizing that his six children — ages three 
to seventeen when he entered office — could keep the Roosevelt 
name in the newspaper on dull news days. The change was 
documented by Alice Roosevelt Longworth in her autobiogra- 
phy. She recalled, with incredulity, that, before her family en- 
tered the White House, "'Publicity' for the members of a politi- 
cian's family was not considered either necessary or 'nice.'"^ But 
then the First Daughter discussed how her father had ended the 
ban on the First Family being a source of publicity. She said: 
"Being photographed became almost a matter of course."^ 

The Roosevelt children made their way into print through the 
spotlighting of their various antics and personality traits. Ethel, 
for example, became the greatest tomboy in First Family history 
through reports about her strength and courage. Typical of 
newspaper stories that helped create this reputation was an At- 
lanta Constitution article titled "Ethel Roosevelt Is Nervy." The 

There were 58 
correspondents in 
Washington in 
1868, and 171 by 
1900. ..209 in 
1920, 251 a decade 
iater. ... in 1962 
. . . there were 
4,300 accredited 


and Sarah Miies 

Watts, The Press 

and the Presidency. 

18. "Sunday at Sagamore Hill," Washington Post, 29 June 1903, 1. 

19. "The President's Guests," New York Times, 12 July 1902, 1. 

20. Mary Randolph, secretary to seven presidents and personal friend of dozens 
of First Family members, quotes this statement in Presidents and First Ladies 
(New York: D. Appleton-Centtiry, 1936), 179. 

21. Barry, Forty Years in Washington, 269. 

22. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Crowded Hours (New York: Charles Scribner's 
Sons, 1933), 34. 

23. Longworth, Crowded Hours, 34. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

"Much of 
RooMvelt't suc- 
cess asa politician, 
his prominence as 
a reformer, his 
leading posHlonas 
a progressive 
came from his 
ability as a politi- 
cal journalist. He 
hammered out his 
phrases wHh the 
sidll of an experi- 
enced craftsman 
and the unceasing 
eneray of a 
- Aloysius Norton, 

Story described how the cinch on Ethel's pony had slipped, 

resulting in the eleven-year-old landing on the ground: 

The pony reared and was about to pitch forward, 

when Ethel cried out to him sharply and, recognizing 

the voice of his mistress, the pony stood perfectly still 

while the little rider extricated her skirts from the 

stirrup and sprang to her feet 

She declined all offers of aid, readjusted the saddle 
herself and rode off again. 

But for her sharp cry to the pony it would have 
trampled upon her chest.^* 
Such stories enhanced the president's image as a strong, re- 
sourceful leadpr who could survive any crisis. President-press 
historians have concluded that Roosevelt was well aware of the 
benefits of such stories.^ 

Second, Roosevelt recognized that a person in the public eye 
can increase his or her publicity value through dramatic state- 
ments and actions. So the image-conscious Roosevelt put his 
various natural abilities into use to generate publicity. 

Roosevelt, for example, sprinkled his speech with vivid phras- 
ing, choosing words that would look good in the newspaper the 
next day. Roosevelt carefully considered the choice of his words, 
weighing the precise effect of each one.^^ The list of clever, 
memorable statements that came from his mouth reads like a 
guide for how to be quotable for the press or, in contemporary 
terms, how to speak in television sound bites. On foreign policy: 
"Speak softly and carry a big stick." On the Spanish- American 
War: "It wasn't much of a war, but it was the best war we had." 
On his decision to run for president in 1912: "My hat is in the 
ring." On the hapless feeling of every parent of a teenager: "I can 
be president of the United States — or — 1 can attend to Alice." 
Roosevelt coined many punchy words and phrases that remain 
a part of the language to this day, including: muckrakers, 
trustbusters, male factors of great wealth, square deal, bull moose, and 
lunatic fringe. 

Roosevelt also staged events and actions to reap additional 
publicity. An entertainer, he tailored a good deal of his show for 
the press. For example, Roosevelt did not simply plan a hunting 
trip to Colorado in 1905 — he orchestrated it. Roosevelt biogra- 
pher Henry F. Pringle wrote that the president was "nervously 
anxious" to appear in the best light as a hunter. "The first bear 
must fall to my rifle. This sounds selfish, but you know the kind 

24. "Ethel Roosevelt Is Nervy," Atlanta Constitution, 11 July 1902, 1. 

25. Jcunes E. Pollard, the pioneer in the study of president-press relations, came 
to this conclusion in his book. The Presidents and the Press (New York: Maanillan, 
1947), 569. 

26. Charles Willis Thompson, who covered Roosevelt for the New York Times, 
discusses the president's precision as a wordsmith in Presidents I've Known 
(Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1929), 115. 

Streitmatter 103 

of talk there will be in the newspapers about such a hunt," 
Roosevelt wrote a fellow hunter. "It n\ust be a success, and the 
success must come to me."^^ Other overt acts that Roosevelt 
undertook, at least partly as publicity stunts, included descend- 
ing to the bottom of Long Island Sound in a navy submarine, 
operating a steam shovel while he was in Panama observing 
progress on construction of the canal, and riding ninety-eight 
miles on horseback in seventeen hours, proving that the com- 
mander-in-chief could meet the requirements he had set for 
senior military officers. 

But the best illustration of Rooseveltean high drama followed 
an act of fate. During the 1912 campaign, Roosevelt had set out 
to address a political rally in Milwaukee when he was shot by a 
fanatic opposed to the idea of a third-term president. The ad- 
dress was only a minor campaign event, but Roosevelt refused 
to alter his schedule. "I will deliver this speech or die, one or the 
other," he said, as though he were delivering a line from a 
Shakespearean tragedy.^* The next day's story, which blanketed 
the entire front page of the New York Times, was extraordinary, 
depicting Roosevelt in the heroic dimensions of a twentieth 
century prophet. Roosevelf s dramatic gesture had paid off, with 

Col. Roosevelt arose and walked to the edge of the 
platform to quiet the crowd. He raised his hand and 
instantly there was silence. 

"If s true," he said. Then slowly he unbuttoned his 
coat and placed his hand on his breast. Those in the 
front of the crowd could catch a sight of the blood- 
stained garment. 

"I'm going to ask you to be very quiet," said Col. 
Roosevelt, "and please excuse me from making you a 
very long speech. 

"I'll do the best I can, but you see there is a bullet in 
my body."^' 
Roosevelt had to halt his speech four times, the story stated, 
because of the applause and "tumultuous cheering." 

Roosevelf s decision to give the speech was a public relations 
triumph. Regardless of whether his action was spontaneous or 
calculated — or some of both — it pumped new life into the cam- 
paign. Of course Roosevelt did not stage the shooting itself, nor 
is there proof that he made the speech for its publicity value. But 
the statement Roosevelt released from his hospital bed two days 
later certainly shows that he played the incident for all the drama 
he could get: 

27. Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography (Rahway, N.J.: Quinn and 
Boden, 1931), 345. 

28. "Maniac in Milwaukee Shoots Col. Roosevelt; He Ignores Wound, Speaks an 
Hour, Goes to Hospital," New York Times, 15 October 1912, 1. 

29. "Maniac in Milwaukee," 1. 

104 AJ /Spring 1990 

"If one soldier who happens to carry the flag is stricken 
another will take it from his hands and carry it on. One 
after another the standard bearers may be laid low, but 
the standard itself can never fall — Tell the people not 
to worry about me, for if I go down another will take 
my place."^ 
Third, Roosevelt recognized that a powerful official's public 
image will be enhanced if the public perceives him as remaining 
close to the ordinary citizens whom he governs. Historian John 
Morton Blum described Roosevelt as "an easy companion of the 
woodsmen and cowboys he befriended at his ranch in the 
Dakotas."^^ Roosevelt, seeing the merits of such a public percep- 
tion, expanded and exploited his natural ability to relate to the 
"little people." 

Of course it is impossible in every case to know if Roosevelt 
consciously pursued the publicity that resulted from his interac- 
tion with everyday citizens, but he definitely sought that public- 
ity in some cases. For example, when Roosevelt learned that a 
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, man had named his twentieth child 
'Theodore," the president dispatched a personal letter to the 
father. Simultaneously, he took the extra, publicity-seeking step 
of distributing copies of the letter to newspaper reporters. 
Roosevelf s action landed him space on the front page of iheNew 
York Times because the newspaper reproduced the letter: 
"The President desires to present his congratulations 
to yourself and Mrs. Signet and to assure you of his 
hearty appreciation of the compliment paid him in 
the selection of a name for your son. He also wishes 
the young Theodore a long and prosperous life and 

extends his highest regards to all members of your 

A close reading of newspaper articles suggests that many of 
Roosevelf s personal activities may have been staged for their 
publicity benefit. A story about the family attending an Episco- 
pal church near Sagamore Hill, for example, stated: "At the 
conclusion of services an opportunity was taJcen by the members 
of the parish to pay their respects to the Chief Executive."^^ It is 
likely that it was Roosevelt who provided parishoners with that 
opportunity — and the newsmen with the opportunity to write 
their stories. 

Indeed, Roosevelt may have been the first president to or- 
chestrate a photo opportunity. When an Associated Press re- 
porter was writing a story about Thanksgiving at the White 
House, Roosevelt arranged for the story to be illustrated with a 

30. '"Not I, the Cause/ Roosevelt's Motto/' New York Times, 17 October 1912, 1. 

31. John Morton Blum, The Progressive Presidents: TR, Wilson, FDR, LB] (New 
York: Norton, 1980), 23. 

32. "President to His Namesake,"New York Times, 10 July 1903, 1. 

33. "Sunday at Sagamore Vm," Washington Post, 29 June 1903, 1. 



photograph of him signing a Thanksgiving proclamarion — even 
though obtaining the photograph meant staging an event. 
Roosevelt delayed signing the paper until the photographer 
arrived at the White House, then interrupted a session with his 
secretary of state, who was at the White House to help him 
prepare his annual message to the country, so that the photog- 
rapher could arrange the camera and the sitting.^ Roosevelf s 
delaying of an important matter of state in order for a news pho- 
tographer to capture the image of a contrived event contains all 
the components of the most popular contemporary public rela- 
tions technique at the White House, the photo opportunity. 

Fourth, Roosevelt was aware that how news is disseminated, 
such as the timing and presentation of announcements, can in- 
fluence the quantity and the quality of news coverage. This 
astuteness was most clearly demonstrated in his public relations 
policy of timing the release of announcements to ensure the most 
desirable treatment in the press.^ 

Roosevelt understood the cycles of breaking news. He an- 
nounced negative news on Friday, ensuring that stories were 
published on Saturday when many people were more interested 
in enjoying the weekend than in reading the newspaper. And he 
saved positive news until Sunday, on the other hand, because he 
wanted the guarantee that the stories would receive good play 
in Monday editions. Reporters have trouble filling Monday 
newspapers because most sources are dry on the weekend, 
when Monday stories must be written. Stories released on Sun- 
day, therefore, tend to receive more space and to be given 
stronger placement. Roosevelt was the first national politician to 
see the advantage of disseminating important utterances on 

A researcher has no difficulty identifying the results of 
Roosevelf s calculated timing. A typical example appeared on 
the front page of the New York Times on a Monday in 1903. The 
extremely favorable story began: 

The interior decorative work on the White House has 

gone so far that it is possible to appreciate the beauty 

of the scheme of improvement that is being wrought 

out — The work that has been done on the east front 

to construct the new entrance has been pushed at a 

rapid pace lately .^^ 

The information contained in the article obviously was not of 

such a timely nature that it could not have been released the 

previous week. But the positive tone of the story makes it clear 

34. The reporter was Arthur Wallace Dunn, who describes the event in Fmm 
Harrison to Harding: A Personal Narrative, Covering a Third of a Century (Port 
Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1922), 2:24-25. 

35. Pollard, Presidents and the Press, 569. 

36. Willis J. Abbot, who covered Roosevelt for Hearst Newspapers, discusses 
this topic in Watching the World Go By (New York: Beekman, 1974), 244. 

37. "The New White House," New York Times, 7 September 1903, 1. 

"What Roosevelt 
wanted was a pub- 
licity machine 
ready at hand that 
he had only to 
crank up when- 
ever he needed it." 
-Tebbel and Watts, 
The Press and the 


AJ /Spring 1990 

guiding motto Is 
this: 'Let me have 
free access to the 
channels of pub- 
licity and I care 
not who makes my 
country's laws— or 
what tiie other fel- 
low does.'" 

- Dicicinson, 


why the White House held the information for optimum play 
and impact. 

Roosevelt also timed news events to deny coverage to his 
political opponents, using his status as the number-one news- 
n\aker in the country to dominate the news whenever he wanted. 
Roosevelt taught this lesson to Charles Evans Hughes in 1908. 
When Hughes announced that he would meet with the Repub- 
lican Club of New York on the night of 31 January to talk about 
national issues, Roosevelt knew that the New York governor 
would use the appearance to announce his candidacy for the 
Republican presidential nomination, which Roosevelt wanted 
to go to his friend. Secretary of War William Howard Taft. 
Hughes expected the newspapers to report his statement the 
morning after he made it, but Roosevelt did not want Hughes's 
name in the headlines.^* So, on the afternoon of 31 January — too 
late for publication in the afternoon newspapers — Roosevelt 
announced that he was calling on Congress to provide work- 
men's compensation for federal employees and to regulate the 
abuse of the injunction in labor disputes. The president's an- 
nouncement was a bombshell that sent Shockwaves through the 
country's business community — and obliterated news coverage 
Harbaugh labeled Roosevelfs action a "brilliant political 
maneuver."^' When critics said that the president had treated 
Hughes unfairly, Roosevelt told reporters: "If Hughes is going to 
play the game, he must learn the tricks."*" 

Fifth, Roosevelt expanded the duties of the presidential staff 
to include press relations. He did this by delegating publicity re- 
sponsibilities not only to his two executive secretaries, but also 
to the first White House social secretary and to at least one chief 
adnunistrator for an executive agency.*^ 

Roosevelt laid the groundwork for the position of presiden- 
tial press secretary, although he left it to the efficiency-minded 
Herbert Hoover to designate one person, George Akerson, to 
work full time as press secretary, p>er se. "Roosevelt's two key 
aides filled the same position in all but name," Juergens wrote in 
his study of press-president relations during the Progressive 

38. William Henry Harbaugh, Poroer and Responsibility: The Life and Times of 
Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1961), 336. 

39. Harbaugh, Power and Responsibility, 336. 

40. Harbaugh, Power and Responsibility, 336. 

41. The fact that several Roosevelt staff members vmdertook public relations 
duties indicates that it was the president himself, and not a specific aide, who 
was the architect of Roosevelt's press policies. Fvirther evidence that the policies 
came from Roosevelt is the fact that those policies began to evolve when 
Roosevelt was governor of New York and continued to evolve throughout his 
presidency, and no single staff member with press responsibilities remained 
with Roosevelt throughout that time period. 

42. Juergens, News from the White House, 46. 



The first of these two aides was George Cortelyou, the execu- 
tive secretary Roosevelt inherited from William McKinley. 
Cortelyou's duties included those generally attached to a secre- 
tary, such as taking dictation and making appointments, and 
also extended to those of an office manager. Under Roosevelt, 
Cortelyou also was given the responsibility of dealing with the 
press. If a reporter had a question that the president was too busy 
to answer or that could be answered just as well by the secretary, 
the reporter was sent to Cortelyou.*^ 

The Roosevelt aide most closely involved with reporters was 
William Loeb, Jr., whom Roosevelt named executive secretary 
when he appointed Cortelyou to head the newly created Depart- 
ment of Commerce and Labor. When Roosevelt was governor 
of New York State, Loeb had served as his secretary. When 
Roosevelt became president, he came to rely more and more 
heavily upon his loyal assistant. It was during the six years that 
Loeb served as presidential secretary that the position expanded 
significantly into the area of press relations. Loeb, for example, 
was given the power to provide the press with official denials.** 
It was Loeb's assessment of public opinion that prompted 
Roosevelt to designate his presidential successor.*^ 

One of the most important powers Roosevelt gave Loeb was 
that of controlling the amount of access reporters had to the 
White House. Altfiough Roosevelt was the most accessible of 
presidents, there were practical limits to reaching the president 
of the United States. After all, news correspondents could not be 
calling the president at all hours of the night. But there was no 
such limitation on a secretary. Newsmen routinely called Loeb 
as late as 1 a.m., which was even later than they were willing to 
call their own bosses.** Loeb's virtually unlimited availability 
meant that correspondents could, for the first time, depend on 
the White House as a news source every minute of every day. 
And such access also meant that the White House could be 
mined for some sort of story even on the slowest of news days. 

Loeb's most visible press function was leading the daily press 
briefing, a phenomenon that had begun under McKinley. The 
White House used such sessions to make announcements that 
may not have been worth the president's time, and yet still had 
the potential of resulting in newspaper coverage. The briefings 
also provided a vehicle tfirough which Roosevelt could success- 
fully disseminate information about subjects that he wanted 
covered but that were more appropriately handled by someone 
other than the president. It was Loeb, for example, who provided 
most of the details about the Roosevelt children and family 
activities. In giving Loeb this responsibility, Roosevelt essen- 

43. Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the Presidency. 338. 

44. Pringje, Theodore Roosevelt, 410. 

45. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt, 500-501. 

46. Louis W. Koenig, The Invisible Presidency/ (New York: Rinehart, 1960), 175. 

"The mobile coun- 
tenance of the 
serviceable Loeb 
... Is the baronie- 
ter by which the 
cuckoo gauges his 
standing at the 
White ^se." 

- Dickinson, 


108 AJ /Spring 1990 

tially allowed the secretary to determine the exact amount of 
privacy the president and First Family were allowed.*^ 

Loeb also established the tradition of a presidential press 
secretary serving his boss by accepting the blame for actions that 
the president actually had taken but that later were criticized by 
the press or the public. In the words of political scientist Louis 
Koenig, "If things went wrong, the trusty formula was applied, 
'blanw it on Loeb.'"** An example involved Roosevelt's request 
that Congress allot ninety thousand dollars to maintain and im- 
prove the White House stables where his favorite horses were 
kept, even though the White House itself received only sixty 
thousand dollars for the same purpose. Koenig wrote: "By some 
roundabout and no^ altogether convincing explanations seeking 
to prove he was to blame, Loeb took the lashes involved for this 
gaudy fiscal expression of equine love."*' 

Another example of how Roosevelt added press relations to 
the functions of the presidential staff was the appointment of the 
first White House social secretary, whose duties included pub- 
licizing White House social events. Ishbel Ross wrote in her 
groundbreaking history of American women journalists that the 
bars around the First Family "were let down an inch" by the ap- 
pointment of the social secretary: 

She sent out dinner lists, so that at least the society 
editors were appeased. At the bottom of each list 
there usually appeared an item about the flowers, 
and a brief note saying that the President's wife 
would wear black satin and pearls, and Alice would 
wear blue, or whatever the costume of the evening 
happened to be.^° 
Another member of the Roosevelt administration who played 
an important role in the expansion of staff functions into the area 
of public relations was Gifford Pinchot, chief of the U.S. Forest 
Service. Pinchot's efforts to increase publicity for his agency 
clearly demonstrated that Roosevelt's public relations efforts 
extended well beyond the White House. In his examination of 
Pinchot's press management efforts, Stephen Ponder wrote: 
"Agency records and congressional debate suggest that govern- 
ment management of news by executive branch agencies was 
widespread ."^^ 

Witii Roosevelt's encouragement, Pinchot revolutionized 
government agency press relations. He created a press bureau, 
hiring former newspaper reporters to write and to distribute 

47. Juergens, News from the White House, 48. 

48. Koenig, Inmsibk Presidency, 162. 

49. Koenig, Inmsible Presidenq/, 162. 

50. Ishbel Ross, Ladies of the Press: The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider 
(New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936), 311. 

51. Stephen Ponder, 'Tederal News Management in the Progressive Era: 
Gifford Pinchot and the Conservation Crusade," Journalism History 13 (Summer 
1986): 43. 



news releases to secure newspaper and nwgazine coverage. He 
developed a lecture program that sent conservation lecturers — 
preceded by press releases, of course — across the country. 

The most sophisticated of Pinchof s public relations achieve- 
ments was the staging of news events. In his book. Breaking New 
Ground, Pinchot advised that: "Action is the best advertisement. 
The most effective way to get your cause before the public is to 
do something the papers will have to tell about."^^ Among the 
"news events" that Pinchot staged were a White House Confer- 
ence on Conservation and an American Forest Congress, which 
brought together four hundred representatives of businesses de- 
pendent on forest resources. Pinchot's greatest public relations 
achievement came in 1907, when Roosevelt led a group of 
officials, news correspondents, and photographers on a steam- 
boat cruise down the Mississippi River to gain support for a 
national waterways policy. Photographs of both Roosevelt and 
Pinchot taken during the trip were reproduced in newspapers all 
over the country .^^ 

Roosevelt said of Pinchot's conservation publicity cam- 

It is doubtful whether there has ever been elsewhere 
under the government such effective publicity — 
publicity in the interest of the people — at so low a 
cost — It was securing the publication of facts about 
forestry in fifty million copies of newspajjers a month 
at a total expense of six thousand dollars a year. Not 
one cent has ever been paid by the forest service to 
any publication of any kind for the printing of this 
material. It was given out freely, and published with- 
out cost because it was news.** 
In his autobiography, Roosevelt also praised Pinchot as the most 
valuable public official in his administration.^ 

Sixth, Roosevelt was convinced that a newsmaker would 
receive favorable press coverage if he won the affection of the 
correspondents covering him. The president, therefore, accom- 
modated reporters in an effort to pull them onto his White House 

Outwardly, Roosevelt's relationship with the press appeared 
relaxed and friendly, differing dramatically from the press- 
president relationships that came before or after. His aim was to 
use his personality and his power to charm the reporters, to 
make them feel that he had taken them into his confidence and, 
therefore, had made them insiders at the White House and in the 

52. Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947), 

53. Ponder, "Federal News Management," 45. 

54. Theodore Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: 
Octagon Books, 1958), 215. 

55. Roosevelt, Autobiography, 210. 

"Roosevelt's suc- 
cessful rise to the 
Presidency . . . was 
fueled by nis re- 
markable rela- 
ationshlp wKh the 
reporters of his 

- Bariier, The 
Pulse of Politics. 


AJ /Spring 1990 

"[Roosevelt] can- 
not understand, in 
view of the fact 
that he is so f ranic 
and outspoken to 
any and all repre- 
sentatives of pub- 
licity who easily 
obtain audience 
with him, why 
newspapers or 
other publications 
should impugn his 
motives or ques- 
tion his sincerity." 

- Dicldnson, 


creation of national and international policy. If the reporters 
thought of themselves as part of a presidential team that was 
shaping history, they would write favorably of their leader and 
his programs. 

Roosevelt referred to the reporters as his "Newspaper Cabi- 
net" and always tried to make tfiem feel like they were part of his 
team. The president was more than willing to do so, convinced 
that his investment would produce lucrative returns through 
favorable coverage by the press corps. 

Roosevelt shattered precedent by making himself available to 
correspondents daily and adopting a "boy's club" style of press 
briefing that was entirely new to the newsmen. He had devel- 
oped the style while he was governor of New York. Both as gov- 
ernor and as president, he provided reporters with confidences, 
anecdotes, jokes, and legislative gossip. When he had to give 
them an official statement, his tone would become more formal. 
After Roosevelt made an official statement, biographer Edmund 
Morris said: "He would confess the truth behind the statement, 
with such gleeful frankness that the reporters felt flattered to be 
included in his conspiracy."^* 

Roosevelt can be credited with creating the presidential press 
corps because he was the man who first provided permanent 
WWte House quarters where reporters covering the president 
could assemble.^' One day Roosevelt saw a group of reporters 
standing in the rain and cold, buttonholing politicians. The 
president immediately ordered that a small anteroom be set 
aside for the reporters, establishing the White House press 

For Roosevelt, the action had several benefits. First, having all 
correspondents in one place made it easier for the president to 
generate news by distributing information to many reporters at 
one time. Second, giving reporters space inside endeared the re- 
porters to Roosevelt. Third and most important, providing 
permanent quarters for the reporters inside the White House 
indicated to the reporters that they were not outsiders but that 
they were insiders, filling a public function, almost as if they 
were members of the president's staff. 

Roosevelf s efforts paid off. He succeeded in pulling reporters 
into his camp and, thereby, convincing them to foresake their 
objectivity. His success is best documented in a revealing article 
published in Harper's Weekly six years into the Roosevelt presi- 

56. Morris, Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, 693. 

57. Roosevelt took the action after William W. Price of the Washington Evening 
Star decided that the existing system of gathering bits of White House news 
from congressmen on Capitol Hill after they had visited the president was not 
efficient. Price started questioning visitors as they left the White House. For a 
fuller discussion of Price, see the author's article "William W. Price: First White 
House Correspondent and Emblem of an Era," Journalism History 16 (Spring 
1989): 7. 

58. "First White House Reporter Dies," Editor and Publisher, 31 October 1931, 38. 




dency. The article, entitled "Theodore Roosevelt: Press- Agent," 
argues that presidential reporters were serving as assistant press 
agents, with Roosevelt as their boss. The writer had worked as 
a White House reporter for more than a year: "I was what is 
known in Washington as one of the President's newspaper 
cuckoos. In the parlance of Washington, a cuckoo is a journalistic 
bird that is permitted to make its principal roost close to the 
Executive chamber."^' 

Seventh, Roosevelt realized that a leader's power and pres- 
tige offer a potential for manipulation of the press that can result 
in further expansion of the leader's power and prestige. 
Roosevelt used his office, as well as his abundant personal charm 
and charisma, to manipulate the press in various ways. 

The president divided reporters into two groups. The 'Tara- 
dise Qub" was for his favorites, the men who always wrote fa- 
vorable stories. He made these correspondents insiders to an 
extent never before contemplated. The "Ananias Club," on the 
other hand, was for the outsiders.*" If a reporter wrote something 
Roosevelt believed was not true, or wished was not true, the 
offender was moved into the Ananias Qub. Members of that 
group were punished by being denied access to White House 

Roosevelt introduced this coercion on the first day of his 
presidency. Within hours after returning from William 
McKinley's funeral, Roosevelt called the managers of the three 
major press associations into his office and announced that if any 
reporter published news that the president thought should not 
have been published, he would be punished by having legiti- 
mate news withheld from him. When one of the press associa- 
tion managers protested that a personal grievance against a 
particular reporter should not be treated as an official matter, the 
president ignored the argument.*^ If a reporter wanted to obtain 
the news and, therefore, satisfy his editors and his readers, he 
had to accept Roosevelt's high-handed tactics in order to remain 
in the Paradise Qub. Most reporters buckled under to the 
president's intimidation tactics and wrote the favorable stories 
that he wanted. 

From the perspective of today's White House press corps, the 
most serious of Roosevelf s manipulative techniques was his 
invention of the "authoritative White House source." He knew 
he would benefit from appearing open and friendly to reporters 
because then they would publish material that they had heard 
informally but that he was not willing to release officially. So he 
gave reporters information with the stipulation that they had to 

59. Dickinson, "Theodore Roosevelt," 1410. 

60. Ananias was described in the New Testament as a man who lied about his 
gift to the church and then fell dead. 

61. Barry, who was one of the managers, recounts the session in Forty Years in 
Washington, 268-69. 

"Naturally, since 
he relies so confi- 
dently upon the 
power of publicity, 
ne chafes under 
the criticisms of 
that power." 

- Dicidnson, 



AJ /Spring 1990 

Some of the books 
wrinen byTheodore 

The Naval War of 
181 2 {\B62) 

Hunting Tripa of a 
Ranchman {^66S) 

Senfon (1887) 

Life of Gouwmeur 
MbrrJs (1888) 

History of the City 

The Winning of the 
West, 4 volumes 

The Rough Riders 

Oliver Cromwell 

The Strenuous 
Life (1900) 

Outdoor Pastimes 
of an American 

African Game 
rra//s (1910) 

Roosevelt: An 

America and the 
Worid War {^9^5) 

The Great Mven- 

attribute it to anonymous sources. The standing White House 
rule against the president being quoted was enforced, and any 
reporter who violated the rule immediately was elected to the 
Ananias Qub." After creating this policy, Roosevelt had free 
rein to control exactly what words were quoted as conning 
directly from his mouth. 

Roosevelt seemed relaxed and chatty during his press brief- 
ings, but, years later, reporters who covered the president pointed 
out that Roosevelt always limited his comments to what he had 
intended to say." No one, for example, ever succeeded in prompt- 
ing the president into a conunent as he exited a train or entered 
a hotel corridor. 

Reporters also helped Roosevelt inaugurate the first trial 
balloons launched from 1600 Pennyslvania Avenue. His chum- 
miness with reporters and his ability to determine what could 
and could not be attributed to him allowed the president to test 
the popularity of a new policy or program he was considering. 
He would arrange to give an exclusive interview to a single re- 
porter and then introduce the new idea. If the public liked the 
new idea, the president basked in public favor; if the new idea 
encountered public disapproval, Roosevelt promptly repudi- 
ated the interview, and the hapless correspondent began look- 
ing for a new job." Roosevelf s most successful launch involved 
the selection of his successor. Roosevelt wanted Taf t to succeed 
him, but the president did not know if Taft would be popular 
among voters. So, Roosevelt biographer Pringle wrote, the presi- 
dent used the newspapers to test Taff s public appeal, calling in 
his favorite reporters to assist him in the exploration." 

Because Roosevelt was himself a journalist — after he left the 
presidency, he became a contributing editor for the Kansas City 
Star and wrote monthly columns for Outlook and Metropolitan 
magazines — and because he had such power over the newsmen 
around him, he sometimes wrote the "news" from the White 
House in his own words. Roosevelt knew the value and influ- 
ence of a news paragraph written as he wanted it written. He 
never hesitated to suggest news articles to reporters, and he 
sometimes went so far as to write out stories in his own hand." 
One such instance occurred on a speaking tour in New England 
in 1902; another during a fight to enact a new railroad rate.^^ 

62. Oscar King Davis, who covered Roosevelt for the New Yorlc Sunday Times, 
discvisses this topic in Released for Publication (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925), 

63. Thom|>son, Presidents I've Knoxim, 118-19. 

64. Abbot, Watching the World Go By, 244. 

65. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt, 501. 

66. Barry, Forty Years in Washington, 270-71. 

67. The first instance involved a trolley car accident in which the president was 
thrown from his carriage and injured. Edna N. Colman described the incident 
in White House Gossip, from Andrew Jackson to Calvin Coolidge (Garden Qty, 
N.Y.: Doubleday, Page, 1927), 281. The second is described in Barry, Forty Years 
in Washington, 271. 

Streitmatter 113 

The public relations techniques Theodore Roosevelt intro- 
duced at the White House did not disappear after he left the bully 
pulpit eight decades ago. Indeed, they have evolved into some 
of the major obstacles that stand in the way of the White House 
press corps disseminating the news today. Examples are as 
common as White House press releases, although the techniques 
have become increasingly sophisticated. The timing of White 
House announcements, for example, now includes not only the 
day of the week, but also the precise hour of the day in order to 
accommodate — or manipulate — evening television news pro- 

Many presidents of the second half of the twentieth century 
have helped to develop the various public relations devices. 
Franklin Roosevelt built on the first Roosevelf s avoidance of 
direct quotations, ruling that he would be quoted directly only 
when his press secretary distributed the quotations in writing.^' 
John F. Kennedy shined the publicity spotlight on his family 
even more brightly than Theodore Roosevelt had. Richard Nixon 
expanded Roosevelf s strategy of intimidation and coercion of 
the press corps. Ronald Reagan perfected Roosevelt's ability to 
provide the impression that he was relaxed and open while he 
held tight control over access to the truth. Most recently, presi- 
dential hopefuls refined Roosevelt's experimentation with photo 
opportunities, George Bush visiting a factory that makes Ameri- 
can flags and Michael Dukakis wearing fatigues and a helmet 
while parading an Army tank in front of the TV cameras. 

Many of these public relations ploys are frightening. But not 
one of them is new, and not one of the recent presidents should 
be blamed for springing them, without warning, onto the White 
House press corps. Reporters covering recent presidential ad- 
ministrations have had ample time to recognize — and to defend 
themselves against — the most recent manifestations of these 
public relations techniques. For all of these techniques were first 
used almost a century ago by Teddy Roosevelt, one of the best 
public relations men ever to reside in the White House. 

68. Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 544. 

69. For a full description of Franklin Roosevelt's public relations techniques, see 
Betty Houchin Winfield, "The New Deal Publicity Operation: Foundation for 
the Modem Presidency," Journalism Quarterly 61 (Spring 1984): 40-48. 


Karen K. List 
Univ. of Massachusetts 

JUST AS MOST teachers 
of journalism have made 
space on their bookshelves 
for the sixth edition of the 
legendary text that has 
dominated the field for al- 
most three decades, Edwin 
and Michael Emery's The 
Press and America faces 
new competition. 

Three new books offer 
teachers of the course a 
viable choice of texts — 
Mitchell Stephens's A His- 
tory of News, Jean Folkerts 
and Dwight Teeter's Voices 
of a Nation, and William 
David Sloan, James Stovall, 
and James D. Startt's The 
Media in America. All three 
books are well-written at- 
tempts to enhance diver- 
sity in the journalism his- 
tory text marketplace. All 
three differentiate them- 
selves from the Emerys' 
new edition, which has 
been reviewed favorably 
by Don Shaw in Journalism 
History (Spring 1988) and 
by Frank Krompac in 
American Journalism (Sum- 
mer 1988). Shaw does point 
out that the book at certain 
points "requires much 
from the teacher ... to 
chart a course through this 
thicket of trends, issues, 
names, and developments" 
(36). At the same time, the 
new edition has been 
somewhat "streamlined," 

according to Krompac 
(179), and it remains a 
valuable and comprehen- 
sive reference book, up- 
dated through the Iran- 
Contra affair, with notes 
and an armotated bibliog- 
raphy at the book's end. 

The task, then, for those 
of us selecting readings for 
journalism history is to de- 
termine what becomes a 
legend most: What might 
we like to retain from the 
Emery tradition? And, at 
the same time, what might 
we like to see added, de- 
leted, or altered? 

The three books consid- 
ered here differ in some 
significant respects from 
one another. Stephens's 
book, already available in 
paper, uses as its overarch- 
ing theme the history of 
news, a staple of all hu- 
man societies, allowing for 
illumination of "continvii- 
ties across centuries and 
cultures." The book is di^ 
vided into six sections, 
each organized chrono- 
logically: (1) spoken news, 
in villages, marketplaces, 
and coffeehouses; (2) writ- 
ten news, in the Roman 
Empire, China, and Europe; 

(3) printed news, in ballads 
and newsbooks; (4) news- 
papers, from Strasbourg in 
1609 through mass-circula- 
tion papers; (5) reporting, 
from its beginning 
through problems with ob- 
jectivity; and (6) electronic 
news. The book, which 
covers "two or three 
milennia of newsmon- 
gers," first mentions 
Gutenberg on page 86 and 
is half finished before it 
turns to newspapers. Ex- 
tensive and extremely use- 
ful notes and bibliography 
appear at the book's end. 

Stephens points out in 
his introduction that this is 
an interpretive as opposed 
to an exhaustive history, 
one that concentrates on 
people and publications 
that illuminate the nature 
of journalism, which he 
defines as "the activity of 
gathering and disseminat- 
ing the news." The book is 
meant in part to correct 
past interpretations that 
"see innovations and firsts 
where we should be seeing 
connections and continui- 
ties." Much of the continu- 
ity, he says, is "previously 
unobserved," and the 

Boolcs Reviewed In Tliis Essay 


SATELLITE. By Mitchell Stephens. Viking, 1988. 401 pp. 

$24.95. Cloth; $9.95, Paper. 

UNITED STATES. By Jean Folkerts and Dwight Teeter. 

Macmillan, 1989. 577 pp. $30.50, Cloth. 

David Sban, James B. Stovall, and James D. Startt. Publishing 

Horizons, 1989. 420 pp. $36.95, Cloth. 

book addresses "revolu- 
tions that, when examined 
from a broader perspec- 
tive, turn out not to have 
taken place." 

Folkerts and Teeter take 
an approach in Voices simi- 
lar in most respects to that 
of the Emerys — a chrono- 
logical exploration of the 
interaction of media, pri- 
marily newspapers, and 
society from colonial days 
to the present. The social 
history approach does in- 
clude coverage of advertis- 
ing, public relations, maga- 
zines, film, and broadcast- 
ing as well. The book is 
divided into four chrono- 
logical sections: (1) early 
America, from the printing 
revolution to commercial 
newspapers; (2) expansion 
and conflict, from the par- 
tisan press to the Civil 
War; (3) modernization 
and reform, from Recon- 
struction to World War I; 
and (4) media in a modem 
world, from the Roaring 
Twenties to UPI's prob- 
lems. It is attractive gra- 
phically and is enhanced 
by introductory essays at 
the beginning of each 
chapter and summaries 
and notes at the end. 

The authors tell us in the 
introduction that "this 
book addresses the media 
as a complex societal and 
cultural institution — a 
product of many voices. It 
views these voices within 
a social, political, and eco- 
nomic framework and con- 
siders the impact of own- 
ers, audiences, journalists, 
technology, and govern- 
ment. Within this frame- 
work, the voices of blacks, 
women, immigrants, and 
other minorities speak 

convincingly, as do the 
voices of media corpora- 
tions that produce metro- 
politan dailies, mass circu- 
lation magazines, and tele- 
vision news and entertain- 
ment." The work draws on 
the most recent scholarship 
available and seems par- 
ticularly strong in the ar- 
eas of the authors' research 
interests: the eighteenth 
century revolutionary and 
federal periods, as well as 
reform and minority 
presses of the nineteenth 

The third book. Media in 
America, is a collection of 
essays by eighteen authors 
that, taken together, deal 
with "all of the major 
ideas, events, and people 
who contributed to the 
history of the media in 
America." The first of the 
eighteen chapters, "Com- 
munication Before Amer- 
ica," begins with the dawn 
of writing and the last, 
'The Contemporary Press, 
1945-Present," ends with a 
discussion of the chal- 
lenges ahead, with the- 
matic chapters in between 
proceeding in more or less 
a chronological fashion. 
While focusing on the me- 
dia, it also looks at the his- 
torical context in which 
they operated. 

The book's introduction 
says it is a "history of a 
people and their network, 
the mass media, that has 

tied them together It is 

the story of the huge cen- 
tral nervous system that 
has made it possible for 
the many and diverse 
parts of America to com- 
municate and mold their 
relationship with one an- 
other." The multi-author 

approach allows the book 
to rely on primary source 
research, and a short anno- 
tated bibliography appears 
at the end of each chapter. 

This book more than the 
others attempts to differ- 
entiate itself from other 
journalism history texts by 
claiming that it is not an 
encyclopedia of facts. "The 
emphasis is not on voltmii- 
nous details, dates, and 
names. While such mate- 
rial is used selectively, it is 
included not because of a 
sense of obligation to list 
every American journalist 
of the slightest importance 
who ever lived, as media 
history textbooks have 
been prone to do, but be- 
cause the individuals, 
events and dates selected 
are outstanding or repre- 
sentative examples that 
help explain the nature of 
the media." 

Comparing coverage of 
one issue, event, or indi- 
vidual in each text quickly 
illustrates some of the dif- 
ferences among the three. 
The Alien and Sedition 
Acts of 1798, probably cov- 
ered in most journalism 
history classes, seem a 
good choice for the pur- 
poses of this essay. 

Stephens devotes about 
two pages to the acts in his 
fourth section on newspa- 
pers. Chapter 11, "News 
and Revolution," discusses 
the American and French 
revolutions, a free press 
and "mass circulation and 
newspaper ownership." 
He describes the acts and 
their use against opposi- 
tion editor Benjamin 
Franklin Bache and Con- 
gressman Matthew Lyon. 
"Unlike France under 


AJ /Spring 1990 

Napoleon," he writes, "the 
United States turned back 
from this road." 

Voices covers the acts in a 
five-page section in chap- 
ter 5, "A New Nation." The 
chapter consists of sections 
on individual partisan edi- 
tors and their papers, in- 
cluding the Federalists 
John Fenno and William 
Cobbett, as well as the Re- 
publicans Philip Freneau 
and Bache; a section on the 
acts themselves; sections 
on Jeffersonian newspa- 
pers, including the Intelli- 
gencer and the Post; and 
short segments on the elec- 
tion of 1824 and maga- 
zines and their audiences. 
The discussion of the acts 
includes more background 
than does the Stephens 
book on the reasons why 
they were passed, the na- 
ture of the acts themselves, 
the Virginia and Kentucky 
resolutions, prosecutions 
under the acts, and their 

The Media covers the acts 
in two chapters, chapter 4, 
"Party Press: 1783-1833," 
by David Sloan, and chap- 
ter 5, 'Treedom of the 
Press, 1690-1804," by 
Margaret Blanchard. 
Sloan's chapter looks at 
leaders' use of the press to 
mold public opinion in 
this era. It begins by dis- 
cussing the press as a po- 
litical instrument and its 
relation to the first party 
system, then looks at a 
good number of individ- 
ual editors and newspa- 
pers, and ends by discuss- 
ing newspaper content 
and style, the development 
of jovirnalistic practices, 
and the decline of the 
party press. Within this 

context, the acts are dis- 
cussed as they were used 
against Cobbett, Bache, 
William Duane, and oth- 
ers. Blanchard's chapter 
then moves from the Brit- 
ish roots of press freedom, 
beginning with William 
Caxton and his printing 
press, through the colo- 
nial, revolutionary, and 
federal periods to the elec- 
tion of Jefferson to the 
presidency. Her discussion 
of the acts gets to the po- 
litical motivations behind 
their passage and differ- 
ences between Federalist 
and Republican interpreta- 
tions of freedom of the 
press. Blanchard quotes 
from the congressional rec- 
ord on the acts to give a 
sense of what this debate 
was about. 

Each treatment of the 
Alien and Sedition Acts, 
then, illustrates some of the 
strengths and weaknesses 
of these books from the 
perspective of the teacher 
trying to choose among 

The Media offers the full- 
est discussion of the mean- 
ing of the acts and their re- 
lation to politics in Amer- 
ica at that time, but be- 
cause of the multi-author 
approach, one reads first 
about practical application 
of the acts against partisan 
editors and in a later chap- 
ter about the philosophy 
behind those prosecutions 
and disagreement as to 
their acceptability. Ironi- 
cally, the strength of The 
Media — its multi-author 
primary source frame- 
work — also may be its 
weakness. While hearing 
eighteen different voices, 
each engaged in his or her 

own research, is appeal- 
ing, some continuity is lost 
in that approach. While 
the depth of the research 
effort is much appreciated, 
the editors in the introduc- 
tion almost seem to over- 
state the case for the use of 
primary sources in that 
text. 'Textbooks that use 
other books and journal 
articles as their main 
sources of information al- 
ways run the risk of giving 
a distorted picture of his- 
tory." Distortion in the 
original research is the real 
risk. One must be able to 
trust the historians en- 
gaged in the primary 
research or those like 
Folkerts and Teeter who, 
in addition to their own re- 
search, rely on analyzing 
and synthesizing the work 
of others. 

As for the Stephens book, 
James Startt in an earlier 
review in American Journal- 
ism (Summer 1989) com- 
mended the book for offer- 
ing a broad synthesis of 
time and space and an in- 
ternational perspective, 
which can be seen in 
Stephens's relating of the 
Alien and Sedition Acts to 
contemporary French 
thinking. But Startt also 
criticized the book for 
lacking a strong contextual 
framework and for repeat- 
edly jumping about "from 
place to place and from 
present to a variety of 
pasts," as illustrated by the 
other material contained in 
the same chapter. 

The same criticism could 
be made of Voices, which 
offers a fuller discussion 
using the most recent 
scholarship, but one sand- 
wiched in a chapter with 

Book Reviews 


other concerns that have 
no strong thematic rela- 
tionship. While Stephens 
might overreach at times 
to sustain his theme, at 
least he has oneiVoices and 
to a lesser extent The Media 
might look more selec- 
tively at journalism history 
than does the Emery book, 
but they still suffer from 
grouping material that is 
unrelat^ except by chro- 
nology. While The Media 
offers a thematic approach 
within each chapter, some 
seem to deliver on that 
promise more than others, 
and the overall thrust of 
the book is in line with the 
basic framework in which 
the story of journalism his- 
tory has been told in the 
past. The same is true of 

The primary problem 
with both these texts is 
that while working hard to 
distance themselves from 
the Emerys, neither is re- 
ally different enough in at 
least two respects: overall 
conceptual framework and 
lack of thematic approach. 
Every set of chapters from 
prospective texts that I 
have reviewed in the last 
five years — with one ex- 
ception — shares these 
characteristics. Every list 
of questions forwarded to 
me by publishers focuses 
on framework and ade- 
quacy of detail. While all 
of these authors and pub- 
lishers would love to sup- 
plant the Emerys, they 
flatter them enormously 
by insisting that prospec- 
tive texts should be so 
much the same. 

As for the conceptual 
framework, the central 
thrusts of the texts remain 

the same: other stories, 
while they might be told, 
seem secondary. David 
Nord argued in a recent 
essay, "A Plea for Journal- 
ism History" (Journalism 
History, Spring 1988), that 
"power is not the only 
proper subject for media 
history, but it is the most 
important subject. And to 
study power, we need 
more, not less, attention to 
the historical institutions 
of mass media, especially 
journalism." That may be 
the case, but what then be- 
comes of those who speak 
in different voices — the 
powerless, the disenfran- 
chised, those who deviate 
in significant ways from 
the great men and their in- 
stitutions who have been 
and still are the focus of 
journalism history? Phyllis 
Rose has written, 'If you 
do not appreciate the force 
of what you're leaving out, 
you are not fully in com- 
mand of what you're 
doing" (Writing on Women, 
1985). What is left out of 
these two texts is an alter- 
native framework that 
would let the reader see 
journalism history from a 
different perspective. 

By the same token, the 
books also are like Emery 
in that they are somewhat 
exhaustive in terms of de- 
tail at the expense of a 
meaningful thematic ap- 
proach. If publishers, au- 
thors and teachers of jour- 
nalism history were not so 
concerned with detail on 
every aspect of the sub- 
ject — preferably in chrono- 
logical order — perhaps it 
would free up writers to 
embrace new approaches, 
to find overarching themes 

that make the material 
meaningful and to drop 
some detail. After all, no 
one can include everything 
anyway, not even the 
Emerys. Krompac wrote of 
their new edition: "No his- 
tory is sufficiently compre- 
hensive to satisfy every- 
one, and this is no excep- 
tion." Stephens was 
Suited for slighting an- 
cient India and the elev- 
enth to thirteenth centu- 
ries. Every one of us could 
cite omissions in the other 
two texts in question here. 
If we can, therefore, accept 
the fact that no one can in- 
clude everything, the next 
step is to admit that it's a 
mistake to try. 

Even so, my attempt to 
develop and hone a the- 
matic journalism history 
course in the belief that 
less is more has not been 
easy. In fact, changing per- 
spectives and dropping 
detail has been difficult — 
but at the same time a de- 
lightful unburdemng. Af- 
ter all, I came out of Bud 
Nelson's graduate history 
seminar at Wisconsin, in 
which he said on the first 
Tuesday, "Read Emery 
and Emery by Thursday." 
At the University of Mis- 
souri School of Journalism, 
I taught the venerated 
History and Principles of 
Journalism, succeeding 
William Howard Taft, who 
had succeeded Frank 
Luther Mott. Mott spent 
weeks lecturing on Horace 
Greeley alone. Those 
Greeley lectures included 
Mott's galloping across the 
stage in the lecture hall as 
he talked of Greeley driv- 
ing a wagon west, causing 
his teaching assistants to 


AJ/Spring 1990 

fear for his life. Bill Taft 
once told me that after 
Mott retired, he could 
sense when his successor 
was about to introduce 
Greeley in the saga that is 
journalism history. And he 
would just show up to lec- 
ture. I'm sure those lecttires 
were memorable. Taft cer- 
tainly never forgot them. 

Mott and others' exten- 
sive use of minutia did not 
escape Nord, who pointed 
out in his essay that tradi- 
tional journalism history 
has been trivial: "In the 
first history of journal- 
ism," he wrote, "Frederick 
Hudson explained that 
William Cullen Bryant 
lived to nearly 11 by eating 
hominy, brown bread, oat- 
meal and stewed fruit, and 
working out with light 
dumbbells," information I 
feel certain was not lost to 
Mott's students. Nord later 
concluded: "Like Frederic 
Hudson, we cannot ne- 
glect William Cullen 
Bryant, though we may 
not need to know what he 
ate for breakfast. We do 
need to know how he fit 
into the political intelli- 
gentsia of New York, and 
how his l^ew York Post 
linked that elite to a more 
general, but still special, 
reading public." It is not 
inconceivable to me that a 
first-rate journalism his- 
tory course or text might 
not only ignore Bryant's 
diet but Bryant himself, 
depending on its theme. 

Having taught journal- 
ism history twice almost 
every semester for the past 
nine years to both gradu- 
ate students and under- 
graduates, most often in a 
required class that met at 

8:40 a.m. three times a 
week in an auditorium 
holding three hundred 
people, I learned early on 
that a book's capacity to 
engage those students by 
offering them relevance, 
fresh insights and an effec- 
tive means of not only 
learning but genuinely en- 
joying journalism history 
was important to them 
and essential to my sanity 
and survival. I have talked 
to more than forty-five 
hundred students about 
journalism history in those 
nine years. I'm still wait- 
ing for the book. 

TThat is not to take away 
from the books discussed 
here, all of which will be 
used by any number of 
teachers of journalism his- 
tory. All are excellent ref- 
erence books. All are ad- 
mirable accomplishments. 
As Shaw wrote of the 
Emerys: 'Talk is cheap. 

. . . They have written." 
But while all will be re- 
quired in certain journal- 
ism history classes next 
fall, the best classes being 
taught will not be driven 
by any of these books. 
Rather professors teaching 
the best courses will make 
their own way through 
some of the material using 
a theme that will engage 
their students for two 
simple reasons: the mate- 
rial is inherently fascinat- 
ing and the theme they 
have chosen to use en- 
gages the professors them- 


By Lilya Wagner. 
• Greenwood Press 
•1989.187 pp. 
•$37.95, Cloth 

includes eighteen brief 
chapters on individual 
women war correspon- 
dents. Here are names 
missing from books on ei- 
ther World War II or jour- 
nalism history — ^Ann 
Stringer of the United 
Press; Iris Carpenter of the 
Boston Globe; Ruth Cowan 
and Bonnie Wiley of the 
Associated Press; Tania 
Long Daniell and Sonia 
Tomara of the New York 
Herald-Tribune; Kathleen 
McLaughlin and Virginia 
Lee Warren of the New 
York Times; Lyn Crost of 
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin; 
Helen Kirkpatrick of the 
Chicago Daily News; 
Catherine Coyne of the 
Boston Herald; Alice-Leone 
Moats and Martha Celhorn 
of Collier's; Sigrid Schultz 
of the Chicago Tribune; Inez 
Robb of International 
News Service; Shelley 
Mydans, Mary Welsh, and 
Lael Laird Wertenbaker of 
Time-Life. Examples of the 
war correspondence of ten 
of the women accompany 
the chapters along with 
eight photographs. 
Other women correspon- 
dents are mentioned in a 
concluding chapter. Three 
appendences list all ac- 
credited U.S. women cor- 
respondents during World 
War Il^a total of 127. 
Their news organizations 
also are listed. 

Bcx)k Reviews 


In an opening statement, 
the author, vice-president 
for institutional advance- 
ment at Union College in 
Lincoln, Nebraska, out- 
lines difficulties faced in 
obtaining the names of the 
women correspondents 
and locating material 
about them. Much of the 
biographical data in the 
chapters comes from the 
author's interviews and 
correspondence with the 

A five-page introduction 
gives an overview of the 
correspondents' experi- 
ences. They faced discrimi- 
nation in obtaining ac- 
creditation and were lim- 
ited in their movements in 
the field. Some complained 
of being restricted; others 
thought they had enjoyed 
special privileges because 
they were women. Wagner 
offers only one general 
conclusion — that women 
journalists wanted to be 
"where the big story was," 
just like the men did, al- 
though she notes that a 
few of the women went to 
the war scene primarily as 
wives of men stationed 
overseas and secondarily 
as reporters. 

For many the war repre- 
sented the high point of 
their careers. Of the eight- 
een profiled, nine left jour- 
nalism after the war, some 
to pursue allied occupa- 
tions and others because of 
marriage. The significance 
of their work is revealed 
by the material presented. 
For example, the chapter 
on Lyn Crost details her 
noteworthy contribution 
to war reporting. She was 
the only journalist to cover 
the actions of U.S. Nisei 

units (made up of men of 
Japanese descent bom in 
the United States) in the 
war. The outspoken qual- 
ity of many of the women 
comes through too. Con- 
sider Alice-Leone Moats, 
still working as a journalist 
(she writes a weekly col- 
umn for the Philadelphia In- 
quirer). Asked if she capi- 
talized on her good looks 
during the war, she re- 
plied, "You bet I did." 

The book includes a few 
factual errors. Eleanor 
Roosevelt did not start her 
woman-only press confer- 
ences because Ruth Cowan 
asked her to, as the chap- 
ter on Cowan states. In 
fact, Eleanor Roosevelt be- 
gan these conferences 
years before Cowan ar- 
rived in Washington. 
Much more intensive ex- 
amination of the role of 
women correspondents is 
merited. This volume, 
however, represents a 
start. It is an obvious labor 
of love, and the author 
should be applauded for 
her work. 

. . . Maurine Beasley 
University of Maryland 


Edited by Robert Darnton 
and Daniel Roche. 

• University of California Press 

• $50, Cloth; $24.95, Paper 

SCHOLARS IN communi- 
cation will find the essays 
in Revolution in Print, The 

Press in France, 1775-1800, 
to be interesting and use- 
ful. Edited by Robert 
Darnton of Princeton and 
Daniel Roche of the Uni- 
versity of Paris, the book 
was sponsored by the 
New York Public Library 
as part of its French Bicen- 
tennial exhibition. The es- 
says are largely historical, 
but their diversity — ^from 
the prerevolutionary poli- 
tics of publishing and cen- 
sorship to the economics 
of printing to the products 
of the press, e.g., journals, 
pamphlets, books, alma- 
nacs, prints, songs, and 
ephemera — suits them to a 
wide audience. 

The first three essays, 
"Censorship and the Pub- 
lishing Industry" by 
Roche, 'Thilosophy Under 
Cloak" by Darnton, and 
"Malesherbes and the 
Call for a Free Press" 
byRaymond Bim will 
interest scholars who 
study the evolution of 
press freedom. Roche's 
article describes the ambi- 
guities of censorship in 
eighteenth<entury France. 
He weaves a narrative 
about an increasingly mas- 
sive state bureaucracy 
staffed with academics 
and clerics, who often col- 
laborated with authors, 
publishers, and guilds. Di- 
rected by the contradictory 
tasks of maintaining the 
ideology of the absolutist 
monarchical state and en- 
hancing publishing as 
commerce, censors found 
themselves protecting an 
elitist system that did nei- 
ther. Then, as now, censor- 
ship even stimulated book 

"Bad books," including 


AJ /Spring 1990 

political and religious trea- 
tises as well as pornogra- 
phy, were coded "philo- 
sophical" by buyers and 
sellers. Damton discusses 
clandestine forms of com- 
munication and barter be- 
tween philosophical book- 
sellers, methods of con- 
cealing banned works and 
fooling customs agents, 
smuggling practices, and 
the range of punishments 
meted out for offenders. 
Noting that commerce and 
government made distinc- 
tions between legal and 
dangerous genres, but not 
among "phUosophical" 
works, he concludes that 
liberty and libertinism 
were inextricably linked. 

Birn's article analyzes the 
memoranda calling for a 
free press written by 
Lamoignon de Malesherbes, 
the director of the French 
book trade office from 
1750 to 1763. As the direc- 
tor of this censoring body, 
he was forced to censor 
books and maintain the 
privileges of elite Parisian 
publishers. However, his 
memoranda reveal that he 
believed France would 
prosper by developing a 
publishing industry based 
on market principles. He 
saw that censorship al- 
lowed the illicit and for- 
eign presses to unduly in- 
fluence the growing 
French public sphere. He 
believed that if prior re- 
straint were eliminated, 
the press could be con- 
trolled by the judiciary 
through libel law. His 
memoranda reveal a com- 
plex understanding of 
French institutions, politi- 
cal power and control, phi- 

losophies of the Enlighten- 
ment, market forces, and 

Carla Hesse, in "Eco- 
nomic Upheavals in Pub- 
lishing," goes beyond the 
usual story of the abolition 
of royal censorship to as- 
sess the cultural revolution 
that followed. She focuses 
attention on the freedom 
of publishing, not only 
from censors, but from the 
thirty-six legal publishers 
of the Paris Book Guild 
who, after 1789, struggled 
to maintain their elite 
status. Many lost their 
businesses as the literature 
of the Enlightenment, e.g., 
Voltaire and Rousseau, re- 
placed the classical, legal, 
and religious culture of the 
Old Regime, which had 
been their charge. Draw- 
ing upon letters, memo- 
randa and economic rec- 
ords, Hesse ties the fall of 
Guild publishers to 
changes in legal and edu- 
cational institutions that 
rendered stocks of Old 
Regime books useless. De- 
spite vehement protesta- 
tions, the National Assem- 
bly refused to maintain the 
Guild's exclusive interests: 
books no longer were re- 
viewed or examined, au- 
thors registered and sub- 
mitted their works to the 
Bibliotheque Nationale to 
establish proprietary 
rights, a work entered the 
public domain ten years 
after an author's death, 
and no measures were es- 
tablished to prevent pirat- 

While the elites fell, new 
printers and booksellers 
rose: during the revolution 
their numbers quadrupled 
and tripled, respectively. 

Journal, newspaper, and 
ephemera publishing 
flourished, but the uncer- 
tainties of competition led 
to a crisis in the expensive 
genre of book publishing. 

Other essays cut a differ- 
ent path to understanding 
the relationship between 
the revolution and pub- 
lishing. Pierre Casselle, in 
"Printers and Municipal 
Politics," takes a bio- 
graphical approach, detail- 
ing the rising and falling 
fortunes of municipal 
printers who worked at 
the rapidly changing cen- 
ter of political power. 

Phillipe Minard exam- 
ines the nature of work, 
wages, hours, technologi- 
cal innovation, labor or- 
ganizations, and the fall 
and reconstitution of print 
craftsmanship in "Agita- 
tion in the Work Force." 
Michel Vernus's "A Pro- 
vincial Perspective" exam- 
ines the ideological battle 
fought through the printed 
word in the province of 
Frache-Comte. He details 
how political ideas were 
imposed on traditional 
forms of religion and song. 
He also notes that, despite 
the influx of the printed 
word, the political mes- 
sage spread there mainly 
via the oral tradition. 

Jeremy Popkin's "Jour- 
nals: The New Face of 
News," reveals how the 
ideology of the Enlighten- 
ment inflected the devel- 
opment of the ideology of 
journalism: it would facili- 
tate the rise of popular 
sovereignty through pub- 
lic debate on a national 
scale, transmit the public's 
opinions to elected repre- 
sentatives, and allow lead- 

Book Reviews 


ers to enlighten the public. 
Popkin quotes journalists 
to give a sense of the role 
of the press in the public 
sphere, "One can teach the 
same truth at the same 
moment to millions of 
men; through the Press, 
they can discuss it without 
tumult, decide calmly and 
give their opinion." 
Popkin then goes on to 
show how vehement press 
partisanship fell short of 
this ideal, leading not to 
rational discourse but to 
contradictions between the 
ways elected leaders saw 
themselves and the ways 
they were portrayed in the 
press. He concludes that 
the French revolutionary 
press should not be seen 
simply as a historical arti- 
fact, but as an example of a 
central contradiction in the 
press of all modern states 
with representative gov- 

Pornographic political 
pamphlets are the subject 
of Antoine de Baucque's 
article, 'Tamphlets: Libel 
and Political Mythology." 
It is a fascinating examina- 
tion of the recurring 
themes and literary de- 
vices used by revolution- 
aries to discredit the aris- 
tocracy. An "us-them" di- 
chotomy contrasted the 
healthy practice of revolu- 
tionary sex, metaphori- 
cally connoting fitness to 

Jean Dhombres's "Books: 
Reshaping Science," shows 
that scientific books be- 
came academically special- 
ized at the end of the 
eighteenth century. How- 
ever, due to public interest 
in science, two new genres 
of science writing emerged: 

popular science, which 
tried but failed to impose 
itself on academic science 
writing, and entrance-level 
university textbooks. 

The last four articles — 
"Almanacs: Revolutioniz- 
ing a Traditional Genre," 
by Use Andries; "Prints: 
Images of the Bastille," by 
Rolf Reichardt; "Songs: 
Mixing Media," by Laura 
Mason; and "Ephemera: 
Civic Education through 
Images," by James Leith 
— examine how the revo- 
lutionaries co-opted tradi- 
tional media formats to 
enhance the credibility of 
their messages. For in- 
stance, Andries demon- 
strates that new political 
views, notions of time, and 
Jacobin philosophies of na- 
ture were worked into the 
almanac. The traditional 
format appealed to the 
masses, who, since the fif- 
teenth century, had used 
almanac calendars to pre- 
dict the weather and fol- 
low religious holidays. 
However, the revolution- 
aries substituted their po- 
litical ideology for super- 
stition and religion. 

Damton and Roche, the 
contributors, the New 
York Public Library, and 
the University of Califor- 
nia Press are to be com- 
mended for this outstand- 
ing collection of essays. It 
will help American schol- 
ars draw connections be- 
tween the American and 
French revolutions, the 
philosophies that formed 
them, and the evolution of 
press freedom. Its diver- 
sity of subjects, data, and 
methods result in a book 
that is useful for advanced 
courses in journalism and 

publishing history, legal 
and philosophical studies, 
visual communication, or 
historical methodology. It 
includes a wealth of illus- 
trated materials, with one 
eight-page color signature. 

. . . Robert Craig 
University of Minnesota 


By Jeremy D. Popkin. 

• Cornell University Press 
•1989,304 pp. 

• $34.50, Cloth 

number of illuminating 
studies of aspects of Euro- 
pean journalism in the 
eighteenth century have 
been published. These in- 
clude works by Michael 
Harris and Jeremy Black 
on the political press in 
Britain, Gary Marker on 
the Russian literary intelli- 
gentsia, and Jack Censer, 
Robert Darnton, and Nina 
Gelbart on the pre-revolu- 
tionary press in France. 
Jeremy D. Popkin's study 
of the Gazette de Leyde, an 
obscure French-language 
biweekly newspaper pub- 
lished in the Netherlands 
between 1677 and 1811, is 
among the best of these 
new books. On the face of 
it Popkin's subject seems 
narrow and unpromising. 
Yet he has written a vol- 
ume that all students of 
journalism are likely to 
find interesting. 
What lifts Popkin's ac- 


AJ /Spring 1990 

count of the GoTette de 
Leyde above the minutiae 
of eighteenth-century nar- 
rative is his use of the pa- 
per to illustrate general 
trends in journalism. Ac- 
cording to him, the Gazette 
was an "elite" news jour- 
nal that typified the best 
features of European jour- 
nalism at the time. It was 
published in a city where 
commercial and political 
conditions assured a large 
degree of freedom from 
governmental interference. 
At the same time, it was 
read extensively in France 
and elsewhere, by groups 
of professional people who 
sought an unvarnished ac- 
count of the news. The Ga- 
zette molded public opin- 
ion, Popkin asserts, by cre- 
ating an informational 
base throughout Western 
Europe and shaping atti- 
tudes that were critical of 

Jean Luzac, the editor of 
the newspaper from 1772 
to 1798, emerges in this 
book as a journalist of in- 
tegrity. Luzac, who also 
taught at Leiden Univer- 
sity, propounded moder- 
ate humanistic values. He 
set an admirable standard 
of objectivity for his paper, 
verifying news sources 
whenever he could and 
providing balanced sum- 
maries of events. He es- 
chewed the easy route to 
sensationalism advanced, 
in Popkin's view, primar- 
ily by British journalists. In 
short, Luzac seems a little 
like an Ochs-Sulzberger 
figure in charge of a proto- 
type International Herald 

Popkin maintains that 
European journalism in 

the years before the French 
Revolution confronted a 
growing divide between 
news presentation and the 
shaping of opinion. The 
Gazette de Leyde was af- 
fected by this develop- 
ment. It concentrated on 
news coverage, while 
trying to shape attitudes 
towards events. Popkin 
makes the point that it ex- 
panded the bovmdaries 
within which pre-1789 Eu- 
ropean newspapers could 
effectively combine these 
two journalistic functions. 
But such a balanced role 
could not be maintained 
indefinitely in an era 
stirred by revolutionary 
passions. Predictably, the 
paper ceased to be an im- 
portant journal by the end 
of the century. 

On the whole this inter- 
pretation is convincing. It 
provides an analytical 
framework for the book 
and serves as a reminder 
that standards of objectiv- 
ity existed two centuries 
ago. Not all journalists 
were of the pamphleteer- 
ing type prevalent in Lon- 
don, that is, prepared to 
sink their integrity in a sea 
of political passion. But 
Popkin's theorizing is a 
heavy burden to place on 
an admittedly obscure 
newspaper like the Gazette. 
It also assumes a congru- 
ence between elite and 
"quality" journalism, 
when in fact popular jour- 
nalism, coming into its 
own for the first time in 
revolutionary Europe, had 
equally strong claims to 

If this volume falters 
slightly in its conceptuali- 
zation, it more than com- 

pensates for this in its de- 
scriptive chapters. These 
contain brilliant elucida- 
tions of practical aspects of 
eighteenth<entury jour- 
nalism: how newspapers 
were put together and 
marketed, how news was 
collected from the farthest 
reaches of a vast continent, 
how an editor like Luzac, 
who had a minimal inter- 
est in the business side of 
publishing, was able to 
create a successful prod- 
uct. There are also fasci- 
nating sections on reader- 
ship, production layout, 
the hiring of correspon- 
dents, circulation, and the 
elusive interaction be- 
tween politics and the 
press. AH of this is nar- 
rated with style and vigor. 
It helps to make clear the 
substantial debt owed by 
modern jotirnalists to their 
eighteenth-century fore- 

. . . Joel Wiener 

New York University and the 

CUNY Graduate Center 


By Craig R. Smith. 

• University of Soutti Carolina 

• 1989, 210 pp. 

• $28.95, Cloth 

Freedom of Expression 
Foundation and director of 
the Center for First 
Amendment Studies at 
California State Univer- 
sity, Long Beach, Professor 
Smith brings considerable 

Book Reviews 


expertise to his study of 
political expression. In this 
volume, one of a series of 
seven studies in rhetorical 
communication. Smith ex- 
amines both historic and 
modem techniques of po- 
litical persuasion, empha- 
sizing rhetorical-persua- 
sive processes by which 
political and social realities 
are interpreted and cre- 

Smith begins by tracing 
the fundamental tension 
between ideology and 
pragmatics. Using as ex- 
amples the persuasive 
processes that arose from 
the philosophical confron- 
tations between the Puri- 
tans and the Revivalists 
and later between the 
Populists and the Social 
Darwinists, he argues that 
the balance of political per- 
suasion has tilted histori- 
cally in favor of the prag- 
matic majority, composed 
largely of synthesizers and 
compromisers. This, in 
turn, has promoted rela- 
tive stability in American 

Moving to political par- 
ties, he examines the 
struggles between three 
radical groups that pro- 
posed to change the 
American system by chal- 
lenging freedom of expres- 
sion for the sake of na- 
tional security. These posi- 
tions were opposed by 
those who held freedom of 
expression as the supreme 
social value and legal 
guarantee. The three con- 
troversies are the events 
surrrounding the passage 
of the Alien and Sedition 
Acts of 1798, the Recon- 
struction Acts following 
the Civil War, and the 

Subversive Activities Con- 
trol Act of 1950 along with 
the political manuevers of 
Sen. Joseph McCarthy. 
Among other things. 
Smith cites the rhetorical 
disadvantage of radicals 
having to establish some 
value above freedom of 
expression as a major fac- 
tor in the outcomes of 
these contests in which the 
moderate judgments of the 
majority prevailed. 

At this point Smith turns 
his attention to the pres- 
ent, beginning with an 
analysis focused on free- 
dom of expression in the 
broadcast media. Assess- 
ing the scarcity rationale 
underlying broadcast 
regulation as anachronis- 
tic, he argues for applying 
full rights of the print me- 
dia to all media of mass 
communication. Address- 
ing persuasion in presi- 
dential political campaigns. 
Smith advocates the abol- 
ishment of Congressional 
regulations restricting 
campaign fund-raising ac- 
tivities. Next, he examines 
what he terms inadvertent 
and disguised persuasion 
arising from cinematic and 
video techniques and edi- 
torial decisions by news 
personnel, concluding the 
book with a reiteration of 
his opposition to regula- 
tion in resolving the ten- 
sions associated with free- 
dom of expression in the 
contemporary media envi- 

Smith has contributed to 
a scholarly, conservative 
treatment of his topic. Per- 
haps lacking in his analy- 
sis is the possibility that 
future American change 
can emerge from sources 

outside the status quo 
(e.g., the two-party sys- 
tem). Nevertheless, 
Smith's expertise in rhe- 
torical theory and experi- 
ence as a television net- 
work news consultant en- 
able him to integrate in a 
useful way his discussion 
of rhetorical strategies 
with the realities of mod- 
em joumalistic organiza- 
tions. Readers with jour- 
nalism backgrounds will 
appreciate his first-hand 
knowledge of television 

Although the split be- 
tween the historical and 
the present might mini- 
mize the adoption of this 
book by teachers of jour- 
nalism history, the volume 
is appropriate for courses 
in freedom of speech and 
press, especially if a rhe- 
torical and conservative 
perspective is desired. 

. . . Robert M. Ogles 
Purdue University 


By Lawrence C. Soley. 

• Praeger 
•1989,264 pp. 

• $24.95, Cloth 

Clandestine Radio Broadcast- 
ing (1987) is a solidly re- 
searched and well-nar- 
rated examination of cov- 
ert radio broadcasting be- 
fore, during, and just after 
World War II. The author 
draws upon recently de- 
classified reports to trace 
the history of American, 


AJ /Spring 1990 

European, and Asian sub- 
versive radio transmis- 
sions. He provides no star- 
tling revelations about the 
impact of broadcast propa- 
ganda, but instead offers a 
step-by-step reconstruc- 
tion of the organization 
and implementation of 
fifth<olumn radio infiltra- 

We see how American ef- 
forts to confuse and de- 
moralize the enemy with 
radio news and propa- 
ganda met variously with 
French arrogance in Alge- 
ria, Chinese Nationalist in- 
transigence in Asia, resis- 
tance from Douglas 
Mac Arthur in the South 
Pacific, and transmission 
difficulties around the 
Japanese home islands. 

Similarly, Soviet clandes- 
tine broadcasts suffered 
from ideological con- 
straints and miscalculation 
of German soldiers' loy- 
alty to Hitler. Interest- 
ingly, a number of ploys 
were used to overcome 
some of these hurdles. 
Americans, for instance, 
broadcast German soccer 
match results on the 
propaganda stations on 
Sunday nights before the 
match scores were aired 
on Nazi-controlled sta- 
tions. Germans, anxious to 
hear the results, begin tun- 
ing into the clandestine 
stations. American mili- 
tary positions were misre- 
ported to confuse the Ger- 
man populace and Nazi 
military strategists. These 
broadcasts occasionally 
backfired and confused 
American military officers. 

Soley's mixture of bio- 
graphical references. Of- 
fice of Strategic Services 

(OSS) documents, and 
newspaper articles pro- 
vides a handsome treasure 
of sources. Occasionally he 
relies too heavily on the 
biography of OSS director 
William Donovan as well 
as New York Times articles, 
but, overall, his careful re- 
search is the strength of 
this book. 

Radio Warfare is not with- 
out its flaws. Its theme is 
the political, military, and 
communications strategies 
that shaped the develop- 
ment of these World War 
II broadcasts. Yet, for some 
reason, he begins the book 
with several pages of 
loosely constructed refer- 
ences to contemporary 
clandestine operations and 
closes in the same way, 
hardly offering an over- 
view of the main theme. 

Soley also struggles to 
explain the impact of these 
war broadcasts. He points 
out that road signs in Ger- 
many were altered accord- 
ing to the directions from 
clandestine news broad- 
casters and that this was 
one indication that Ger- 
mans were listening to the 
American radio signals. At 
other times, he flatly states 
that German soldiers be- 
gan ignoring German 
propaganda stations and 
tuning to American clan- 
destine broadcasts. He also 
argues that Nazi broad- 
casts from Stuttgart had a 
great impact on the French 
before the fall of Paris in 
1940, but does not support 
his assertion. It is certainly 
difficult to determine the 
impact of covert radio op- 
erations during wartime, 
but Soley would have been 
better off simply acknowl- 

edging this and not specu- 
lating on what he could 
not document. 

Essentially, though, this 
is an informative historical 
piece that explores rela- 
tively uncharted history 
and carefully fits a few 
more pieces into the World 
War II puzzle. 

. . . Louis W. Liebovich 
University of Illinois 


By Sally Foreman Griffith. 

• Oxford University Press 
•1989,304 pp. 

• $24.95, Cloth 

gives us a valuable study 
of William Allen White, 
who serves as a better ex- 
ample of a Progressive 
than of a small-town 
newspaperman early in 
this century. 

When White stepped off 
the train in Emporia, Kan- 
sas, in 1895 at age twenty- 
seven, he brought his skills 
as a printer, some experi- 
ence on the Kansas City 
newspapers, and good po- 
litical connections. White 
had borrowed three thou- 
sand dollars to buy the 
Emporia Gazette. He was a 
real small-town editor 
with advertising and job 
printing to sell, aging 
equipment, and large 
debts. In little over a year, 
however, his editorial 
"What's the Matter With 
Kansas?" had been re- 

Book Reviews 


printed nationally and 
White had assumed the 
role of Small-Town Editor 
and spokesman for a way 
of life. As Griffith demon- 
strates, his changing politi- 
cal and social attitudes un- 
til his death in 1944 re- 
flected the conflicts and 
contradictions of the Pro- 
gressive movement. 

Politically, White could 
be in several places at 
once, although his more 
generous moods tended lo 
win out. Originally a Re- 
publican booster of small- 
town capitalism and con- 
formity, he would later 
support free speech and 
tolerance in a post-war 
world dead-set on oppres- 
sion. He could boost capi- 
talist business and advo- 
cate public ownership of 
utilities at the same time. 
He favored expanded de- 
mocracy while harboring 
resentment for the work- 
ing class, blacks, immi- 
grants, and anyone who op- 
posed his political stands. 
A friend of Theodore 
Roosevelt, he supported 
the Progressive Party until 
it failed at the polls. Like 
other Progressives, his 
rhetoric of community 
spirit drew him into sup- 
port for World War I, and 
later for Prohibition. 

Many of those episodes, so 
clearly related in Griffith's 
book, exposed contradic- 
tions in Progressivism. 
Events were moving away 
from White. Even before 
World War I, his booster 
appeals to "buy local" 
foundered on the rocks of 
national advertising for 
brand-name products and 
mail-order catalogs 
brought by rural free de- 

livery. Booster pride in lo- 
cal unity became oppres- 
sion of individual rights 
during the war. As Robert 
Wiebe and several other 
historians have written, 
small-town life was in- 
vaded by outside forces. 
Griffith describes two pub- 
lic campaigns that symbol- 
ized the change in Empo- 
ria. The first was a street 
fair in 1899 that celebrated 
the self-sufficiency of Em- 
poria. The second was a 
fund-raising drive after 
World War I for a YMCA 
building, a drive orches- 
trated by a nationally 
based outsider organiza- 
tion, that symbolized the 
death of local independ- 
ence. White headed both 

White's professional ex- 
perience was not typical of 
small-town editors. He 
wrote for McClure's and 
Atlantic Monthly, helped 
found the American Maga- 
zine in 1906 with IdaTarbell 
and John Phillips, and 
published his short stories 
and novels for a national 
audience. Yet two of Grif- 
fith's chapters demon- 
strate the impact of new 
technologies and advertis- 
ing on the real small-town 
editor. The purchase of a 
three thousand dollar lino- 
type machine meant that 
White would stop writing 
inflamatory editorials. 
Later, the arrival of a new 
printing press that used 
stereotyped mats permit- 
ted the invasion of na- 
tional advertising and di- 
minished the "locals" — 
news of births, weddings, 
deaths — that had been the 
lifeblood of White's news- 
paper. Like the Commer- 

cial Street businesses, his 
newspaper was swept into 
the network of national 

White provides an ex- 
ample of the Progressive 
mentality that held to- 
gether both a community 
and a national political 
movement. In this book, 
Griffith has assembled a 
wealth of detail that leads 
somewhere. It eventually 
adds up to meaningful 
changes in the life of the 
nation. This is a marvelous 
cultural history (originally 
a dissertation that shows 
the influence of the au- 
thor's advisors, including 
Cathy Covert, James 
Baughman, Elizabeth 
Eisenstein, Richard 
Schwarzlose, and Bernard 
Weisberger, among oth- 
ers). Griffith convincingly 
demonstrates the need to 
look at small-town Amer- 
ica before making any 
sweeping generalizations 
about Progessivism. 

. . . Norman Sims 
University of Massachusetts 


Edited by T.D. Nostwich. 
• Iowa State University Press 
•1988,180 pp. 
•$22.95, Cloth 

THESE EARLY anecdotal 
articles for Chicago, St. 
Louis, and Pittsburgh 
newspapers. Professor 
Nostwich writes, have 
"only slight value as litera- 
ture," and give very little 


AJ /Spring 1990 

promise of the magnitude 
of Dreiser's future work. 
That is true, but Nostwich 
is too modest about the 
value of this collection. In 
fact, it gives many hints of 
the direction of E)reiser's 
future interests — in the 
practical world of busi- 
ness, as seen especially in 
the Frank Copperwood 
trilogy (The Financier, The 
Titan, The Stoic), in the na- 
ture of highly successful 
entrepreneurs like Copper- 
wood, in realistic fiction, 
in mysticism and in the 
rich world of the senses. 
Where before, these ar- 
ticles of Dreiser's were 
buried in newspaper files, 
they are now easily avail- 
able. From now on, any- 
one studying the develop- 
ment of Dreiser as man 
and artist will need to turn 
at the outset to this valu- 
able work, which makes 
an excellent supplement to 
the much larger Theodore 
Dreiser: Journalism, Volume 
One, also compiled by 

The articles represent the 
anecdotes that Dreiser 
supposedly heard, when 
he was a young newspa- 
per reporter, in the corri- 
dors of big hotels from 
various guests. In fact, as 
Nostwich points out, the 
"visitors" were frequently 
fictiorwl, and the anec- 
dotes were urban legends 
or other tales picked up 
here and there and as- 
signed a narrator. One of 
them, Dreiser's own har- 
rowing experience of los- 
ing his way in a labyrin- 
thine cave, narrated in his 
autobiography. Dawn, is 
attributed in a piece for the 
Chicago Daily Globe to one 

R.L. Jeffery, "stopping at 
the Wellington," and a few 
months later, for the St. 
Louis Gbbe-Democrat, to a 
Charles Brandon "at the 
Lindell." Dreiser attrib- 
uted tales to his famous 
song-writing brother, Paul 
Dreiser, without explain- 
ing their relationship. 

The variety in the tales 
and in their plausibility is 
considerable. They include 
so|und advice from a medi- 
cal person that handling 
money is a great transmit- 
ter of disease (that dollar 
bill may have been in the 
stocking of a street- 
walker!), to unbelievable 
tales of being buried alive, 
to political anecdotes, tales 
about faithful dogs 
mourning for their dead 
masters, and observations 
on the arts, on the soul- 
shrinking meanness of 
poverty, and on the joys of 
luxury. How many of 
these tales Dreiser actually 
heard in the hotels he vis- 
ited we shall certainly 
never know, but it doesn't 
matter, for they clearly 
came from his avid curios- 
ity about life and his eager 
questioning of every per- 
son he met who he 
thought could tell him 
about it. Dreiser's editors 
must have suspected that 
he was fabricating at least 
the sources for these ac- 
counts, but clearly they 
found them so entertain- 
ing that they ignored their 
doubts — and this fact in 
itself provides another 
chapter in journalism his- 

The startling aspect of 
these tales is how grace- 
fully written they are. The 
contrast is often sharp 

with some of the awkward 
and elephantine sentences 
in Dreiser's later writings, 
which have given him a 
reputation as a "good bad 
writer." What remains the 
same is the descriptive 
power that Dreiser always 
had, and the emotional 
force, the sorrow and the 
pity, that shines through 
the writing in such poign- 
ant articles as one — ^used 
twice, for different news- 
papers — about family 
graveyards in rural Indi- 
ana fallen into decay be- 
cause no one is left to care. 
Nostwich's introduction 
admirably puts these ar- 
ticles in context. His "At- 
tribution Notes," in which 
he explains exactly how he 
deduced or conjectured 
Dreiser's probable author- 
ship of each article, are 
equally good. 

. . . Edward A. Nickerson 
University of Delaware 

LARCOM, 1824-1893. 

By Shirley Marchalonis. 

• University of Georgia Press 
•1989,336 pp. 

• $40, Cloth 

SHIRLEY Marchalonis's 
account is a superbly writ- 
ten, absorbing biography 
of this prominent nine- 
teenth-century American 
writer whose poetry (or 
"verses," as she preferred 
to call them) and moral es- 
says appeared in maga- 
zines and weekly literary 
newspapers like the 
Atlantic and the New York 
Independent and who 

Book Reviews 


served as an editor of the 
children's magazine. Our 
Young Folks, in its early 

Like her contemporary 
and acquaintance, Harriet 
Beecher Stowe, Lucy 
Larcom was also not a 
"typical" nineteenth-cen- 
tury American woman. 
She refused ultimately to 
marry, even though she 
was engaged for several 
years. She sought every 
avenue of independent liv- 
ing available and accept- 
able to her in order to 
achieve and maintain con- 
trol over the time she 
needed to write. 

Bom in 1824 in Beverly, 
Massachusetts, Larcom 
was one of eight daughters 
and the second yoimgest 
of ten children (the oldest 
two of whom were her 
half-sisters). One of the 
many strengths of this bi- 
ography is its clear picture 
of the centrality of family 
relationships and personal 
friendships to the develop- 
ment of Larcom 's charac- 
ter and writing style. 

When she was eight years 
old, Larcom experienced 
the death of her father, 
whom she worshipped. 
Survival required her 
mother to move the family 
to Lowell and open a 
boarding-house. Young 
Lucy was compelled to 
work as a mill girl in order 
to supplement the family 
income. The eleven years 
of mill experience, from 
1835 to 1846, not only ex- 
posed Lucy to the drudg- 
ery and cacophony of fac- 
tory work but also to the 
intellectual stimulation of 
lectures and discussions 
and the chance to write for 

the Lowell Offering, during 
the most creative stage of 
the Lowell experiment. 

During a six-year stay on 
the prairies of Illinois from 
1846 to 1852, Larcom ful- 
filled a long-time dream of 
having a formal education 
by attending the Mon- 
ticello Seminary at 
Godfrey, Illinois. Although 
engaged at the time to a 
young man lured by the 
promise of adventure in 
California, she resisted 
what she regarded as an 
unsettling and frivolous 
promise of fulfillment in 
the far West and returned 
to her home and family in 
Massachusetts. Part of 
what she resisted, too, 
however, was a marriage 
that she feared would 
snap shut intellectual ad- 
ventures and opportimi- 
ties to write and discuss 
ideas, which she enjoyed 
most of all. 

The return to Massachu- 
setts began a decade of 
struggle and success. 
Larcom taught at Wheaton 
Female Seminary from 
1854 to 1862, and devel- 
oped a mentoring and 
deepening friendship with 
the poet John Greenleaf 
Whittier, whom she had 
met in the salon days in 
Lowell. Four books of her 
moral essays were pub- 
lished during these years 
as well as numerous 
poems. By the early 1860s, 
she was an accepted mem- 
ber of Boston's literary so- 
ciety, headed by the pub- 
lisher James Fields (of 
Ticknor and Fields) and 
his wife Annie. But Lar- 
com wrestled increasingly 
with what she saw as the 
loathsome and boring as- 

pects of "keeping school" 
(record-keeping, house- 
keeping, discipline) as op- 
posed to teaching, and the 
advantages of a secure fi- 
nancial position that lim- 
ited her time to write ver- 
sus the risk of leaving 
Wheaton to devote her 
time to a writing career. 

Larcom's chance to rec- 
oncile her need for a liter- 
ary career with her equally 
important need to live in- 
dependently came when 
she was appointed one of 
three editors for James 
Field s's new magazine. 
Our Young Folks, first pub- 
lished in January 1865. As 
Marchalonis notes, the edi- 
torship gave Larcom a 
"modest but secure niche 
in the world of letters." It 
also gave her enough 
money to live on (fifty dol- 
lars a month), in addition 
to payments for poems 
and occasional private tu- 
toring. It gave her, too, a 
style of emplo5mient that 
permitted her to balance 
the "stir" of city living and 
the "stillness" of living 
close to nature in the 
mountains or at the ocean 
according to her need — 
she could, after all, read 
manuscripts anywhere. 

When she became sole 
editor of the magazine in 
the fall of 1868 her salary 
was doubled. Larcom was 
especially competent with 
and enjoyed handling the 
literary aspects of an edi- 
tor's job (e.g., selecting 
manuscripts, planning lay- 
outs, talking to writers), 
but she was "nearly hope- 
less" with the business as- 
pects like budget and 
deadlines. In later years, as 
her confidence grew, she 


AJ /Spring 1990 

became more interested in 
such business asf>ects of 
her books as advertising, 
reviews, and the quality of 
covers and bindings. In 
1870 another of the origi- 
nal editors displaced her 
as editor-in-chief, although 
she remained associated 
with the magazine until it 
was sold to Scribner's in 

Another of her profes- 
sional dreams became a 
reality in late 1868 when a 
collection of her poems 
was published by Fields, 
Osgood (formerly Ticknor 
and Fields). Several other 
collections of her poetry 
and prose appeared up to 
the year before she died. 

Larcom continued her 
own writing while work- 
ing as editor of Our Young 
Folks, earning from 
twenty-five to forty dollars 
per published poem in 
magazines like Scribner's — 
a sign of progress from the 
early days when she re- 
ceived payment in the 
form of magazine or news- 
paper subscriptions or no 
payment at all. Her trepi- 
dations about financial se- 
curity led her to accept an- 
other teaching position in 
1873, with disastrous ef- 
fects on her physical and 
psychological well-being. 
She promised never again 
to accept a teaching job 
that would confine her 
and cause her to lose con- 
trol of her life. 

It was a promise she kept 
chiefly by publishing her 
work, teaching private 
classes, and lecturing 
(which she hated almost as 
much as teaching) for the 
duration of her life, even 
though she could rarely 

see financial security much 
more than a few months 
before her at a time. Over 
time, she also developed a 
more professional attitude 
about asking appropriate 
payment for her work, 
thus enabling herself to 
survive even when her in- 
come left her close to the 

Marchalonis, an associate 
professor of English and 
comparative literature at 
Pennsylvania State Uni- 
versity, Berks Campus, 
is especially effective in 
showing the interplay of 
Larcom's personal, domes- 
tic experience and public 
affairs, particularly her 
strong abolitionist views, 
the effects of the Civil War 
on New Englanders, and 
her methods of coping 
with changes in American 
culture and literary style 
in the 1880s. For every 
stage of Larcom's life, 
Marchalonis provides just 
enough historical context 
to show the connections 
between Larcom's private 
world and the larger 
movements of state and 
nation. In keeping with 
her expertise, Marchalonis 
is also effective in analyz- 
ing and critically assessing 
Larcom's poetry. She pro- 
vides a balanced view of 
her subject with clear, judi- 
cious interpretations of 
available evidence. 

Marchalonis also shows 
many of the difficulties 
which even a successful 
author like Larcom had to 
endure, as happened in 
the 1870s when Larcom's 
old mentor and friend, 
Whittier, failed even to 
mention her by name in 
the preface to a volume of 

poems for children that 
they co-edited and for 
which Larcom had done 
most of the work. 

The importance of 
Larcom's life for scholars 
of communications history 
is indirect. Marchalonis's 
purpose, of course, is to 
create a biography of a 
writer and not to write as a 
communications historian. 
She achieves her goal, but 
in the process leaves some 
teasing questions for com- 
munications historians 
unanswered. How, for ex- 
ample, did publishers and 
editors decide payments 
for writers' contributions? 
Were women writers, as 
one incident discussed in 
the book suggests, consis- 
tently disadvantaged in 
such decisions? Larcom 
was accused twice of pla- 
giarism when her poems 
were published — ^how 
common were such 
charges and how serious a 
legal concern were they for 
publishers, editors, and 

Marchalonis gives us an 
exceptionally readable and 
fully documented account 
of this nineteenth-century 
writer. For a commtmica- 
tions historian, her book 
provides detail and texture 
for the larger tapestry of 
history. And in her able 
hands what wonderful de- 
tail and texture that is! 
Marchalonis succeeds in 
another way as well: she 
rescues for us in the twen- 
tieth century the remarka- 
bleness of even the most 
ordinary aspects of this 
earlier woman who strived 
against the confinements 
of her age to find a style of 
living that would sustain 

Book Reviews 


her independence, help 
her talents grow, and per- 
mit her to share the prod- 
uct of those talents with 
the wider world. 

. . . Terry Hynes 

California State University, 







By Hedley Donovan. 



• $27.95, Cloth 

and cofbunder Henry Luce 
have begun to crowd li- 
brary shelves, but the 
famed publishing empire 
has been a powerful force 
in American journalism 
and certainly there is room 
for more good works. Un- 
fortunately, Hedley Dono- 
van's book is not in that 
category. This is a 450- 
page seminar on magazine 
editing and management. 
Donovan was Luce's suc- 
cessor in 1964 and obvi- 
ously a peacemaker at 
Time Inc. He contents him- 
self with recounting in 
glowing terms nearly all 
the editing and personnel 
decisions he made over a 
long career. Little contro- 
versy here. He is still keep- 
ing the peace. 

Donovan, by his own 
admission, was probably 
closer to Luce than any 
other person at Time Inc. 
Yet we only get brief 

glances of the publishing 
magnate. We learn of 
Luce's reluctance to fire or 
replace managing editors. 
Luce's lukewarm verbal 
endorsement of Donovan 
as his successor ("you'll 
do"), his acceptance of 
Donovan's criticism of 
Tim^s one-sided and 
sometimes unfair editorial 
policy, and Luce's lonely 
private life. But much is 
left out. 

The author criticizes 
other works about Luce 
and Time Inc. for failing to 
capture the color of the 
man and the organization, 
but Donovan himself fails 
miserably here. His narra- 
tive glosses over serious 
personnel matters decided 
under Luce's administra- 
tion, such as Whittaker 
Chambers's service as for- 
eign editor of Time and 
special advisor to Luce in 
the 1940s, Charles Mohr's 
resignation as Saigon bu- 
reau chief in 1%3 because 
of pro-Diem Time articles, 
and John Herse/s and 
Theodore White's resigna- 
tions in 1946 over Time's 
pro-Nationalist Chinese 

Occasionally, Donovan 
raises questions about the 
roles of journalists and 
their editors in society, but 
he often fails to offer an- 
swers. Why, when he was 
managing editor of Fortune 
in the 1950s, did Donovan 
allow Fortune sources rou- 
tinely to review articles be- 
fore publication? This led 
Donovan to consider quit- 
ting in 1956 when a piece 
on the Eisenhower Ad- 
ministration was changed 
after White House advi- 
sors reviewed the article 

before publication and 
complained to Luce about 
some of the phraseology. 
Was pre-publication re- 
view of articles by sources 
common among maga- 
zines in the 1950s? He 
muses that maybe sources 
should not have been al- 
lowed previews of manu- 
scripts, but he does not say 
why he did not stop the 
practice. Nor does he ex- 
plain why he allowed staff 
members to accept junkets 
from businesses. Why did 
he allow Life to "buy" sto- 
ries and get the magazine 
into the mess with Clifford 
Irving's phony Howard 
Hughes biography in 
1971? All he says is that 
he didn't want someone 
else to get it! He barely 
addresses the topic of 
women and minorities in 
journalism or at Time Inc. 
The exception to this 
superficiality is an absorb- 
ing essay at the end of the 
book on the American 
press and the need for 
journalists to police them- 

Donovan, a brilliant 
writer and editor, grew up 
in Minnesota and was 
graduated from the Uni- 
versity of Minnesota and 
Oxford University. He 
glided smoothly from re- 
porter for the Washington 
Post, to writer for Fortune, 
to managing editor of For- 
tune, to editor-in-chief of 
Time Inc. Surprisingly, he 
writes most interestingly 
about his boyhood, his 
parents, Minnesota, and 
his Oxford days. He re- 
lates touching stories 
about his mother and fa- 
ther, whom he obviously 
revered, and about his first 


AJ /Spring 1990 

forays into the worid be- 
yond Minnesota. But his 
wife and children are only 
shadowy figxires that flit in 
and out without much 

liiis imbalance also char- 
acterizes the recollections 
of his professional life. He 
mentions hundreds of 
names, but ultimately we 
leam little about any of 
these people except that 
they were brilliant and 
could edit up a storm. 

The book has its mo- 
ments. The few insights 
into Luce's life, the chilling 
episode when the Synanon 
cult harrassed Donovan 
and his family in 1977, his 
dealings with the kooky 
Howard Hughes, and his 
revelations about the inner 
financial workings of Time 
Inc. are all interesting and 
enlightening. Overall, 
though, the book is 
strangely bereft of histori- 
cal value and surprisingly 
uninformative considering 
that its author occupied a 
position of such promi- 

. . . Louis Liebovich 
University of Illinois 


By Steven W. Harmon. 

• Peter Lang 

• 1989, 200 pp. 

• $37.95. Cloth 

the nineteenth century 
marked the heyday of Ger- 
man-language journalism 
in America. The booming 
population of German 

immigrants spawned a 
great diversity of publica- 
tions, ranging from large 
general-circulation urban 
papers to specialized jour- 
nals oriented to profes- 
sional fields, social organi- 
zations, and religious au- 
diences. One example of 
this myriad assortment 
was the St. Josephs-Blatt, a 
German Catholic weekly 
published by Benedictine 
monks at Mt. Angel Abbey 
in Oregon. Begun as a 
small monthly issued by a 
Catholic parish, the pap)er 
was turned into a weekly 
and published at the abbey 
fi-om 1889 to 1952. Like 
many smaller ethnic publi- 
cations, it did not try to 
appeal to all German- 
Americans, but was aimed 
at a Catholic audience, 
avowed a religious mis- 
sion, and circidated pri- 
marily in the western 
United States. From 1889 
to 1929, its editor was the 
Swiss-born monk Brother 
Colestin Mueller. Brother 
Colestin, clearly a man of 
strong opinions, domi- 
nated the editorial pages 
of the St. Josephs-Blatt all 
through his tenure. 

Steven Harmon's study 
of the St. Josephs-Blatt was 
originally a master's thesis 
in German literature at 
Portland State University. 
In its book form, it retains 
many of the earmarks and 
limitations of a master's 
thesis. Harmon has read 
through the pages of the 
paper fi-om 1896 to 1919 
and presented excerpts of 
its editorial comment, usu- 
ally in large block quota- 
tions in the original Ger- 
man and without transla- 
tion. The analysis of this 

material is lamentably 
weak. While making use 
of a few major secondary 
works on German-Ameri- 
cans and on the politics of 
the World War I era, the 
author fails generally to 
pursue the subjects raised 
beyond the pages of the St. 
Josephs-Blatt in other collat- 
eral sources. The result is 
that we leam little of the 
contexts of these matters, 
either in regard to the 
readership of the paper, 
the significance of the po- 
litical and diplomatic is- 
sues, or the general state of 
German- American jour- 

The core of the book con- 
centrates on the period of 
World War I, a troubling 
time for German-Ameri- 
can papers. The course fol- 
lowed by the St. Josephs- 
Blatt was not unlike that of 
many German-American 
papers. At the war's outset 
the paper remained an ar- 
dent exponent of German 
cultural values, and of- 
fered its version of a neu- 
tral and objective view of 
the conflict in Europe, pre- 
senting press reports from 
Germany as an antidote to 
the allegedly British-domi- 
nated coverage appearing 
in English-language news- 
papers. The editorial col- 
umns repeatedly de- 
nounced British machina- 
tions as the cause of the 
war. But these positions 
came back to haunt the 
newspaper after America's 
declaration of war in early 
1917, and the Blatt had to 
defend itself against accu- 
sations of disloyalty. Even- 
tually the paper suspended 
publication from April 
1918 to September 1919. 

Book Reviews 


This suspension is only 
vaguely dealt with by Har- 
mon; it appears not to 
have been brought about 
by governmental action. 
Remarks in the book's 
foreword (by Martin 
Pollard, the archivist of 
Mt. Angel Abbey) suggest 
that it was by action of 
Brother Colestin's abbot, 
but the affoir needs more 

Harmon's book offers 
one small example from 
the vast and complex 
world of German-lan- 
guage journalism in its 
most flourishing period. It 
does not see very far be- 
yond the horizons of that 
one journal and its editor. 
Many more examples of 
German journalism await 
further exploration to 
deepen our understanding 
of the most prolific ethnic 
journalism that America 
has produced. 

. . , James M. Bercfuist 
Villanova University 


By S. Carl King. 

• Edwin Mellen Press 

• 1989, 289 pp. 

• $49.95, Cloth 

IT IS CURIOUS that the 
history of photography 
has remained so discon- 
nected from the history of 
media and communica- 
tions, especially since 
questions surroimding the 
nature of photographic 
depiction are so central to 
studies of mass media rep- 
resentation and reporting. 

There are scores of books 
on the history of photo- 
graphic technology, per- 
haps reflecting the tradi- 
tioi\al oversupply of tech- 
nical "how-to" manuals, 
textbooks, pamphlets, and 
magazines. There is a 
prominent art history of 
photography, concerned 
with identifying a progres- 
sion of elite photographic 
styles and establishing a 
pantheon of noteworthy 
photo artists. But both 
these approaches have 
been limited by their lack 
of attention to the social 
and institutional contexts 
of picture production and 
use, by their neglect of the 
broadest and most popular 
terrains of photographic 
activity, and by a more or 
less complete disregard for 
historiographical issues 
pertaining to the history of 
photography and commu- 
nication media. 

It is against this back- 
ground that King's 
monograph. The Photo- 
graphic Impressionists of 
Spain, represents a unique 
approach to media history. 
Unlike most photo histori- 
ans he treats photographic 
aesthetics as historically 
"local and transitory." For 
King, strategies of depic- 
tion and canons of taste 
are tied to specific social, 
economic, and class cir- 
cumstances and are not 
the inevitable result of uni- 
versal aesthetic principles. 
Thus, his history of photo- 
graphic pictorialism in 
Spain is a history of social 
organization, economic 
circumstances, technical 
processes, and class inter- 
ests. It is a history of ama- 
teur photography clubs 

and societies inhabited by 
upper- and upper-middle- 
class gentlemen, and it is 
in these institutional set- 
tings that standards for 
photographic picture mak- 
ing in Spain were estab- 
lished between 1890 and 

Placing Spanish ama- 
teurs within the context of 
amateur developments 
throughout Europe and 
North America, King de- 
tails the international in- 
fluences and technical 
printing processes that 
contributed to the rise of 
Spanish pictorialism, a 
romantic and picturesque 
approach to the making of 
"beautiful" pictures. He 
describes the manner in 
which small groups of 
well-positioned gentlemen 
in the Real Sociedad Foto- 
grafica de Madrid and the 
Agrupacio Fotografica de 
Catalunya in Barcelona 
controlled the publication 
of Spain's leading photo- 
graphic magazines, ad- 
ministered and judged the 
nation's most prominent 
photographic salons and 
exhibitions, and made pic- 
torialist work the standard 
of "good" photography in 
Spain for over fifty years. 

The value of King's book 
for scholars of journalism 
and communications is 
twofold. Rrst, it is a case 
study of the social produc- 
tion of cultviral forms, a 
study that demonstrates 
the importance of study- 
ing the socially orches- 
trated processes through 
which media forms of rep- 
resentation are created. 
Second, it extends beyond 
a strictly Spanish context 
because it links up with 


AJ /Spring 1990 

similar types of current re- 
search in the U.S. and else- 
where. For more than a 
decade, those dissatisfied 
with the narrow parame- 
ters of photographic his- 
tory have be«i calling for 
"other histories," histories 
of amateur, professional, 
commercial, and industrial 
photography, histories of 
photo production that ex- 
amine the use of photo- 
graphic picture making in 
various industrial and au- 
dience contexts. (The his- 
tory of photojournalism, 
for instance, is still, for the 
most part, waiting to be 
done.) King's book repre- 
sents one of those "other 

The weakness of King's 
work is that it doesn't go 
far enough in its attempt 
to provide an alternative 
to traditional photo his- 
tory. In some chapters he 
still clings to an approach 
that overemphasizes tech- 
nical history without re- 
vealing the social contexts 
of technological develop- 
ment. In other chapters he 
is still too preoccupied 
with canonizing a select 
group of individuals and 
legitimizing pictorialism 
as a great art form. 
Throughout the book his- 
toriographical issues re- 
main submerged and un- 
examined. He moves from 
brief discussions of the 
"bourgeois nature" of pic- 
torialism and the class- 
based nature of the values 
it celebrates, to long- 
winded biographical de- 
scriptions of the "unique 
and creative" individuals 
who formed the move- 
ment, never addressing 
the potential contradic- 

tions this suggests. He 
rightly points out the con- 
tinued dominance of picto- 
rialist aesthetics in salons 
and exhibitions world- 
wide. But he fails to even 
mention the industrial 
promotion of this aesthetic 
in the twentieth century, 
instead persisting in his 
description of it as an "ar- 
tistic movement." 

It is disappointing that 
King did not do a'better 
job of situating his subject 
within a new, broader con- 
ception of photographic 
history. But despite the 
contradictions and short- 
comings, he points us in 
the right direction for fur- 
ther work. The "other" his- 
tories are slowly emerging. 

. . . Michael Griffin 
University of Minnesota 


By ClJona Murphy. 

• Temple University Press 
•1989,240 pp. 

• $34.95, Cloth 

IN HER STUDY of the suf- 
frage movement in pre- 
Worid War I Ireland, 
Cliona Murphy provides 
an insightful, but sadly 
flawed, survey of the 
struggle for the vote by 
Irish women during the 
early twentieth century. 
Murphy begins her study 
with a carefully con- 
structed survey of previ- 
ous work in the field. In 
doing so, she not only 
places her own book in the 

proper historiographical 
setting, but also provides 
the reader with a solid bio- 
graphical overview of 
other work about the suf- 
frage movement in Ire- 
land. This first chapter is 
the best one in the book. 

Murphy's study capably 
presents the variety of ef- 
fort in the Irish women's 
suffrage movement as the 
issues of votes for women 
and Irish Home Rule be- 
came intertwined between 
1900 and World War I. 
Some suffragists sup- 
ported efforts both to give 
women the vote and to 
gain Irish Home Rule, 
while others emphasized 
one goal over the other. 
Because of the difference 
in emphasis, the Irish suf- 
frage movement was 
splintered in ways differ- 
ent from similar efforts in 
Britain. As was true else- 
where, the Irish suffrage 
movement was predomi- 
nantly a middle-class 
movement, but it was 
never limited to one spe- 
cific group. Both women 
of leisure and women 
trained for professions 
supported efforts to gain 
women the right to vote. 
The primary goal — ^to gain 
women the right to vote 
on the same terms as men 
— appeared to many of its 
supporters to be a logical 
part of the move for Irish 
Home Rule. Others, how- 
ever, emphasized the need 
to gain Home Rule first 
and then to consider the 
issue of female suffrage. 
The disagreement over 
whether to include votes 
for women in the move for 
Home Rule proved to be 
the issue that kept Irish 

Book Reviews 


suffragists from truly unit- 
ing in their efforts to gain 
the vote. Because of the 
lack of cohesiveness in the 
movement, it failed to win 
suffrage for women before 
World War I. 

Even though the move- 
ment failed. Murphy con- 
cludes that it still had a 
major impact on Irish soci- 
ety, for it entered into all 
areas of Irish life. She con- 
siders the impact of the 
suffragists on Irish society 
by studying the reactions 
of the churches, the intel- 
lectuals, the general pub- 
lic, and the press. For jour- 
nalism historians, the reac- 
tions of the press are obvi- 
ously of most interest. 
Here, however, Ms. 
Murphy fails to fulfill her 
goal. According to 
Murphy, "the Irish press 
was . . . heterogeneous in 
its views" of the Irish suf- 
frage movement (122). 
However, she fails to pres- 
ent much solid evidence to 
support her contention. 
She quotes extensively 
from the suffrage paper, 
the Irish Citizen, and also 
presents comments from 
women who felt their 
cause was not receiving 
adequate press coverage. 
However, her study fails 
to adequately prove any 
great interest in the suf- 
frage movement by the 
mainstream Irish press. In 
a book of over two 
himdred pages, only four 
deal directly with the reac- 
tions of the press. Al- 
though Murphy is clearly 
familiar with the Irish 
newspapers of the period, 
she does very little except 
quote from them occasion- 
ally to support other 

points she is making. If the 
desire of the reader is to 
gain a good understanding 
of the Irish press and its 
reaction to the suffrage 
movement. Murphy's 
work will not be com- 
pletely satisfying. 

Finally, this book has an- 
other serious flaw that 
weakens its impact. It is 
badly edited, for it is full 
of serious grammatical 
mistakes. Comma splices, 
incorrect division of 
words, and lack of needed 
punctuation detract from 
the good information pre- 
sented in the book. 
Murphy's work is a useful 
survey of the Irish suffrage 
movement prior to World 
War I, but the many me- 
chanical errors weaken its 

. . . Carol Sue Humphrey 
Oklahoma Baptist Univ. 

By Cathy Packer. 

• Greenwood 
•1989,350 pp. 

• $47.95, Cloth 

communication and law is 
undergoing a metamor- 
phosis. The roots took 
hold in Zechariah Chafee's 
classic examination of free- 
dom of speech in 1920, 
which has inspired numer- 
ous treatises combining 
case law with Rrst 
Amendment theory. Vince 
Blasi's "checking theory," 

Alexander Meiklejohn's 
political expression theory, 
and Harry Kalven Jr.'s no- 
tions of common law and 
tolerance as fundamental 
First Amendment building 
blocks come to mind. 
These theorists were not 
journalism or communica- 
tion scholars, but profes- 
sors of law and philoso- 

By the late 1920s a differ- 
ent type of scholar emerg- 
ed. Ralph Grosman, head 
of the journalism depart- 
ment at the University of 
Colorado, teamed with a 
lawyer to write what we 
recognize today as a press 
law case book. The interest 
in law as it applied to jour- 
nalists, and later to broad- 
casters, advertisers, and 
public relations counsel- 
ors, was a natural one for 
those working in schools 
of journalism. Many of our 
current media law texts 
are written in part or in 
whole by authors with ad- 
vanced degrees in commu- 
nication rather than in law. 

Paralleling the rise of so- 
cial science in journalism 
schools during the 1960s, 
researchers began to take 
an interest in empirically 
based questions raised by 
media law themes. The 
free press and fair trial is- 
sue and the effects of news- 
person's privilege, for ex- 
ample, attracted the atten- 
tion of commimication 
theory researchers such as 
Steven Chaffee as well as 
media law scholars such as 
David Gordon. 

The last decade has 
brought us to still another 
distinct branch of research 
involving communication 
and law. Scholars are now 


AJ /Spring 1990 

examining assumptions 
about communication that 
appear to be embedded in 
law. This is no easy task. It 
requires fine tuning and a 
careful touch to apply the 
conceptual tools of the 
communication researcher 
to the often rigid defini- 
tions and advocacy-based 
conceptualizations of law. 

Cathy Packer, an assis- 
tant professor of journal- 
ism at the University of 
North Carolina, who holds 
a doctorate in mass com- 
munication, has attempted 
such a combination. She 
provides a careful and de- 
tailed analysis of the mili- 
tary legal system and the 
First Amendment as it ap- 
plies to speech involving 
military personnel. Her 
work is rooted in the re- 
cent past, covering rights 
such as petitioning, asso- 
ciation, press, and speech, 
from 1951 well into the 
1980s. Packer finds lineage 
for current indoctrinations 
in the social science re- 
search and the legal prac- 
tices of the 1940s. 

Her compilation of this 
often overlooked area is a 
valuable resource raising 
important questions about 
the role of dissent in a de- 
mocracy. Clearly military 
restrictions on expression 
fall outside our normal 
expectations of constitu- 
tional protection. Packer 
documents the offical and 
legal rationales. Foreign 
diplomatic relations must 
be protected. Strict order, 
discipline, and obedience 
must be maintained to in- 
sure an efficient military 
response in armed conflict. 
Loyalty must be main- 
tained. Yet as Packer 

points out, any correlation 
between loyalty and re- 
pression of speech, effi- 
ciency and prohibited ex- 
pression, or combat ability 
and exposure to compet- 
ing and conflicting ideas is 
strictly speculative. The 
communication assump- 
tion embedded in law 
seeyns as though it should 
be true, but is it? Is the 
First Amendment anti- 
thetical to military per- 
formance and national se- 
curity demands? 

The book strays from 
pure questions of freedom 
of expression at times into 
issues more closely related 
to organizational commu- 
nication. Packer considers 
the importance of horizon- 
tal and vertical speech pat- 
terns traveling between 
the enlisted ranks and the 
officer corps. Her material 
is based on a review of the 
available literature, most 
from sociology and psy- 
chology. And from this 
she raises questions based 
on communication model- 
ing. She constructs a 
model of military commu- 
nication and compares it 
to a traditional communi- 
cation model. Packer sug- 
gests that communication 
theory challenges the mili- 
tary model of tightly regu- 
lated expression. 

At the heart of Packer's 
work is her finding that 
military and civilian prece- 
dent recognize the armed 
forces as a "separate soci- 
ety" and use that concept 
as a basic rationale for ob- 
fuscating fundamental 
rights. Neither modeling 
nor empirical work sup- 
port that rationale. Packer 
finds. Her case is built on 

reviews of modeling, the 
dichotomy between civil- 
ian and military law and 
the rationales supporting 
each, constitutional and 
military precedent, and 
her identification of cur- 
rent issues. 

In the end Packer's thesis 
is not compelling. Models 
are simply too weak a tool 
to effectively motmt such a 
challenge. Models neither 
fully explain nor predict. 
But Packer knows this and 
claims only to raise the is- 
sue. Perhaps more impor- 
tant are the questions in- 
herent in Packer's attempt. 
If we cannot apply com- 
munication research and 
theory directly to law, how 
can we best study areas in 
which communication and 
law indeed intersect? 
Where are the disciplinary 
boundaries between or- 
ganizational commimica- 
tion, freedom of expres- 
sion, and law? Packer en- 
courages us to challenge 
the too easily accepted 
wisdom that free expres- 
sion in the military is at 
best inefficient and at 
worst dangerous. The in- 
tuitive answer, she pro- 
tests, just may be wrong. 

The conceptual road map 
we need to answer 
Packer's questions, and 
others challenging norma- 
tive assumptions about 
communication, lies 
within the research area 
we are now calling commu- 
nication and law. Here we 
can experiment with the 
interdisciplinary tools 
from communication and 
from law necessary to 
chart a useful course. 
Packer has set her ship 
afloat on just these waters. 

Book Reviews 


The course is not yet clear, 
but at least the voyage has 
begun and Packer^s log is 
most useful for the as- 
sumptions she challenges. 

. . . Jeremy Cohen 
Stanford Unixxrsity 


Edited by Sig Mickelson and 
Elena Teran. 

• Praeger 

• 1989, 250 pp. 

• $35.95, Cloth 

IN HIS TELLING final re- 
mark at a conference ad- 
dressing how the law of 
freedom of expression fits 
in the development of new 
communication technolo- 
gies, senior FCC commis- 
sioner James Quello con- 
fessed that "the potential 
application of the Rrst 
Amendment to advjmced 
communications is mind- 
boggling. Unforturwtely, 
so are the solutions to the 
problems." As one of only 
two policy-makers among 
nineteen participants in 
the 1987 "First Amend- 
ment — ^Third Century 
Conference" whose pres- 
entations are published in 
this book, Quello and his 
perplexity seem imfortu- 
nately yet accurately to re- 
flect the present role of the 
First Amendment in poli- 
cies affecting the emerging 

Three approaches to the 
intersections between the 
libertarian traditions of 
freedom of expression and 
the continued expansions 

in communication tech- 
nologies seem to emerge 
from the presentations and 
panel exchanges reported 
in the book. First, a safari 
of constitutional lawyers 
and scholars is hunting for 
First Amendment trophies 
in the silicon jungle. No 
byte, datum, or downlink 
is safe from the safari's liti- 
gious predilections. The 
lawyers advocate assign- 
ing all of the new media to 
their appropriate booths in 
the marketplace of ideas, a 
delicate and difficult task 
that could take decades, 
cost millions of dollars in 
attomies' fees, and con- 
sume an equal number of 
pages in law reviews. 

Second, a pillbox of in- 
dustrial protectionists, 
who in previous decades 
were in league with the sa- 
fari to the extent that to- 
gether they could maxi- 
mize government benevo- 
lence and minimize its 
regulatory tendencies, is 
scaling a new slope (to mix 
metaphors) it would rather 
not make slippery by the 
politics of administrative 
oversight and the vagaries 
of appellate court judica- 
ture. As part of the mili- 
complex, the pillbox 
would prefer virtual com- 
mon carrier status (so as to 
protect profits and enjoy 
monopoly) to the purgato- 
ries to which broadcast 
and cable entities say they 
have been banished with 
their semi-regulated stat- 

Finally, a coffeehouse of 
progressive critics some- 
how has survived from its 
heyday of the first part of 
the century when they 

gave inspiration to the Ra- 
dio Act of 1927 as well as 
other mechanisms for af- 
firmation of the public in- 
terest in industrial policy- 
making. Although the 
agencies have, at worst, 
been controlled by the in- 
dustries and, at best, like 
(Juello, sat by perplexed, 
the coffeehouse continues 
to remind the safari that 
more is at stake than the 
First Amendment interests 
of the industrial litigants 
and to remind the pillbox 
that more is at stake than 
the profits of the industrial 

The three approaches are 
adequately represented in 
the book, one in an excel- 
lent series of volumes on 
public policy issues pub- 
lished by Praeger over the 
last few decades. The cast 
is impressive, including 
First Amendment experts 
Daniel L. Brenner, commu- 
nication law director at 
UCLA, and Richard M. 
Schmidt Jr., general coun- 
sel for the American Soci- 
ety of Newspaper Editors; 
media leaders David 
Laventhol, president of 
Times Mirror Co., and 
J. Richard Munro, then 
head of Time, Inc.; policy- 
makers Quello and Rep. Al 
Swift; and public interest 
advocate Henry Geller, di- 
rector of the Center for 
Public Policy Research. 

Use of the book for teach- 
ing or research purposes is 
limited because the pres- 
entations lack documenta- 
tion, but probably for the 
same reason the advocacy 
of positions is less re- 
strained than they would 
be in a research context. 
The result is a book laced 


AJ /Spring 1990 

with hypotheses, some of 
which are ripe for re- 
search. Although few 
speakers failed to ac- 
knowledge the signifi- 
cance of historical lessons 
in resolving futuristic as 
well as current problems, 
the potent myths of the 
Zenger case, the Stamp 
Act, the framing of the 
First Amendment, and 
Near v. Minnesota, among 
other "lessons," inspire 
much of this discussion. 

. . . Thomas A. Schwartz 
Ohio State University 

IN BRITAIN, 1760-1900. 

By Josef LAItholz. 

• Greenwood 
•1989,200 pp. 

• $39.95, Cloth 

there is a new recognition 
that religion, however it is 
defined, plays a central 
role in the development 
and movement of society 
and culture. And every 
few decades somebody 
recognizes that, in retro- 
spect, religion was there 
all along, percolating 
ideas, essays, arguments, 
and politics. 

Students of Victorian lit- 
erature and history, of 
course, have always 
known this. Now journal- 
ism historians can share 
this view from Josef Alt- 
holz's perch, and take a 
closer look at the role of 
the religious press in Brit- 
ain during the late eight- 
eenth and throughout the 
nineteenth centuries. 

Altholz, a professor of his- 
tory at the University of 
Minnesota, is a specialist 
in Victorian religious his- 
tory. Here he turns his 
considerable talents and 
acumen to the question of 
religious discourse 
through the press in the 
then still very United 
Kingdom of England, Ire- 
land, Scotland, and Wales, 
shying only from the reli- 
gious-political discourse of 
Ireland by admitting that 
there religion and politics 
were truly inseparable. 

This catalogue discussion 
of the religious press be- 
gins with a general essay 
on the scope of the study, 
helping us set the pattern 
of the book in mind while 
recalling for us the central- 
ity of the religious press in 
people's lives. It really 
should go without saying 
that the religious press 
touches more people more 
deeply than even the most 
celebrated of the secular 
press, especially in the pre- 
electronic era of Victorian 
Britain. But because it is 
routinely dismissed as 
dealing "only" with reli- 
gious matters, it is not al- 
ways seen as a serious 
contributor to the ways in 
which society works. But 
even editors of religious 
periodicals get hanged ev- 
ery once in a while (as Dr. 
William Dodd, chaplain to 
the king and editor of the 
Christian's Magazine, 
learned only too late), and 
so Altholz's detailed dis- 
cussions do grab one's at- 

The press he sees as most 
active between 1760 and 
1900 is mostly Anglican, 
and internal high versus 

low church arguments 
abound within it. Of 
course there are chapters 
on the Presbyterians and 
Catholics, along with one 
chapter each on the free- 
thinkers and that comfort- 
ing group, the "others." 
The study weaves the his- 
tory of the period effec- 
tively but not overbear- 
ingly with the original his- 
tory of the religious press, 
so that the context of the 
press's contribution is con- 
sistently apparent. 

Copious notes are com- 
plemented by a well-se- 
lected bibliography and a 
comprehensive index of 
the religious periodicals of 
the period. As Altholz 
points out, the index of 
titles mentioned in the text 
includes, at least, all of the 
religious periodicals of 
import in Victorian Brit- 
ain, and then some. 

This signal work is a nec- 
essary resource for the 
bookshelf of Victorian spe- 
cialists and deserves as 
well to be recognized as a 
serious contribution to the 
development of journalism 

. . . Phyllis Zagano 
Boston University 


By John C.Merrill. 

• Louisiana State University 

•1989,280 pp. 

• $29.95, Cloth 

jectivity, freedom and con- 
trol, reality and illusion: 

Book Reviews 


journalism long has 
seemed torn between the 
pull of powerful poles. 
Resolution of the tension 
between the poles, the 
quest really for the proper 
role of journalism in social 
life, has continued to 
evade the social sciences. 
It has become evident that 
some part of the quest 
must lead down the road 
of ethics, responsibility — 
in short, philosophy. 

This perspective lies at 
the heart of the most re- 
cent book by John Merrill. 
A professor emeritus of 
journalism at the Univer- 
sity of Missouri who has 
taught most recently at 
Louisiana State, Merrill 
has been over this ground 
before. Through more than 
thirty years and twenty 
books, he has drawn in- 
sights from the mix and 
clash of journalism and 

Merrill is a serious stu- 
dent of his fields. No 
popular philosophy here, 
no quick case studies of 
newsroom ethics. 

His book is divided into 
two parts. In the first part, 
Merrill discusses the es- 
sential notion of the dialec- 
tic. He writes with disarm- 
ing clarity. The dialectic is 
simply "the principle of 
contradiction. Everything 
tends to clash and merge 
with its opposite. Develop- 
ment is everywhere. And 
the development proceeds 
by the dialectical process." 
He goes on to trace the 
roots of the dialectic 
through Plato, Aristotle, 
Rousseau, Hegel, and 

In the second part, Mer- 
rill applies the notion of 

dialectic to the tension be- 
tween freedom and control 
in journalism. He opposes 
the thesis of freedom with 
the antitheses of social 
control. He looks for a 
synthesis in a global defi- 
nition of journalism ethics 
based on sense of duty 
(deontology) and concern 
for consequences (teleol- 
ogy). A "deontelic ethics" 
encourages journalists to 
find their own middle 
ground between blind ad- 
herence to principle and 
the allure of expediency. 

Merrill finds further pos- 
sibilities for the dialectic 
throughout journalism. He 
argues against those who 
would take an either-or 
approach to central con- 
cerns, such as objectivity- 
subjectivity and authori- 
tarian-libertarian systems. 
He affirms that the dialec- 
tic is consistent with plu- 
ralism, the clash of ideas in 
the marketplace, the ever 
changing but ever familiar 
world of the news. 

As Merrill notes, this 
book rethinks the contro- 
versial stance of The Im- 
■perative of Freedom, which 
he published in 1974. He 
acknowledges that the 
early book's heavy liber- 
tarian thrust apfjeared to 
slight ethics and responsi- 
bility in favor of press free- 
dom. "Although," he says, 
"this 'weakness' of the ear- 
lier volume was, I think, 
exaggerated, I have tried 
in the present work to 
right this real (or per- 
ceived) wrong." 

He is true to his word. 
There are some wonder- 
fully engaging paragraphs 
in which Merrill acknowl- 
edges "the sterility of my 

earlier conviction that it 
was proper for the press to 
have power (freedom) 
without concomitant obli- 
gations to the people." He 
admits, "At one time 
American-style press free- 
dom in its extreme mani- 
festation CThe people be 
damned; / am the editor!') 
had a great appeal for 
me." He writes, "For years 
I took such positions. I 
thought that by taking 
stands I was being coura- 
geous, when often I was 
being foolhardy. I saw my 
convictions as necessary, 
when in fact,they were of- 
ten no more than biased 
sophistry. I saw my icono- 
clasm as helpful, when of- 
ten it was simply confus- 
ing and debilitating." 

Such honesty and insight 
strengthen the book. And 
though he frets that his 
new, dialectical self might 
suffer from lack of vigor 
and emphasis, those who 
have witnessed Merrill 
lumber and growl like an 
old bear through a journal- 
ism conference must agree 
that vigor and emphasis 
are the least of his worries. 

There is plenty here for a 
journalism historian to ab- 
sorb. Within his argument, 
Merrill provides a history 
of thinking about press 
freedom, weaving Milton 
and Locke with Lippmann, 
the Hutchins Commission, 
and Four Theories of the 
Press. More broadly, he of- 
fers an acceptance of para- 
dox, an embrace of contra- 
diction within journalism 
that rings true to the care- 
ful historian. And finally, 
Merrill illustrates the 
subtle value of the dialec- 
tic for historical study and 


AJ/Spring 1990 

points the way to contin- 
ued, thoughtful explora- 
tions of the philosophy of 

. . . Jack Lule 
University of Tulsa 

By Salvatore Salerno. 

• State University of New 
York Press 
•1989,160 pp. 

• $34.50, Cloth 

ers of the World (IWW) is 
certainly one of the most 
studied of the generally 
overlooked and under- 
studied American radical 
Left. But, says Salvatore 
Salerno, a Metropolitan 
State University professor, 
scholars have not yet done 
it justice. Red November, 
Black November is an at- 
tempt to expand histori- 
ans' understanding of the 
IWW not just as a political 
force but as a social move- 
ment emerging from a di- 
verse cultural context. 
Salerno convincingly 
criticizes other scholars for 
basing their interpreta- 
tions of the IWW almost 
solely on the group's offi- 
cial actions and events. 
Approached from this per- 
spective, the IWW appears 
more homogeneous and 
more purely American 
than it really was, main- 
tains Salerno. Previous his- 
torians have missed or se- 
verely underestimated the 

contributions of rank-and- 
file activists, particularly 
immigrant activists who 
carried European tradi- 
tions of revolutionary un- 
ionism into the American 
labor movement. 

It is these European in- 
fluences, especially French 
syndicalism, that most in- 
terest Salerno. The bulk of 
his study is concerned 
with identifying the diver- 
sity of political and cul- 
tural ideas that informed 
the IWW. The emerging 
picture is of a complex so- 
cial movement: pluralistic, 
heterogeneous, and rich in 
European tradition. 

After the author estab- 
lishes (and somewhat bela- 
bors) this point, he moves 
on to a discussion that 
should be of some interest 
to press historians: the 
significance of Wobblie art 
forms as vehicles for revo- 
lutionary consciousness. 
Foremost among these art 
forms are political car- 
toons published in IWW 
newspapers and tracts (but 
mostly in the Industrial 
Worker), twenty-seven of 
which are reproduced 
throughout the book. He 
also discusses Wobblie 
poems and songs. 

Salerno's method is to 
sketch in the historical 
moment — a strike, a free 
speech fight, for example 
— and then discuss how 
the cartoons, poems, and 
songs expressed the true 
pluralistic nature of the 
IWW at that moment. He 
sees this art as a means of 
both disseminating politi- 
cal ideas and creating a 
workers' culture, and finds 
in it many direct links to 
European radicalism. He 

concludes that Wobblie art 
and cultural forms chal- 
lenged the definition of 
American life imposed by 
government and business 
elites while helping to 
shape a dynamic concep- 
tion of workers' culture. 

For its targeted and 
rather detailed reading of 
the cartoons, poems, and 
songs as cultural political 
texts, this book has some- 
thing to say to historians 
of the press. For its general 
"bottom up" approach 
that focuses on rank-and- 
file intellectuals and immi- 
grant artists, the book cer- 
tainly reinforces the bene- 
fits of such social history. 
But, unfortunately for the 
press historian, the au- 
thor's protracted criticisms 
of other scholars' work 
and his extended discus- 
sions of French syndical- 
ism take up most of this 
slim volume. 

. . . Lauren Kessler 
University of Oregon 


By Thomas Doherty. 

• Unwin Hyman 

• 1988, 275 pp. 

•$34.95, Cloth; $12.95, Paper 

well-written account of a 
colorful era of film his- 
tory — ^the age of / V^as a 
Teenage Werewolf ^nd At- 
tack of the 50 Foot Woman, 
Hot Rod Rumble and Teen- 

Book Reviews 


age Wolfpack. In short, this 
was the advent of what he 
calls the "teenpic." 

Doherty begins his dis- 
cussion of the 1950s teen- 
pic by placing the phe- 
nomenon within its his- 
torical context, demon- 
strating that its develop- 
ment during the fifties was 
an economically-moti- 
vated response to demo- 
graphic changes in the 
composition of American 
movie audiences. "Holly- 
wood's platonic ideal" of 
entire families attending 
the movies together repre- 
sented an era that was rap- 
idly coming to a close, 
largely because of "Holly- 
wood's nemesis": televi- 
sion. The movie industry, 
according to the author, 
actively began to court the 
teenage audience as a spe- 
cific, exploitable group by 
the mid-1950s, and the 
teenpic was a recognizable 
staple of the industry by 
around 1960. 

The author sees the teen- 
pic as a subcategory of the 
"exploitation" film. He 
explains that the fifties ex- 
ploitation film commonly 
exhibited three characteris- 
tics: (1) Because the film's 
subject matter was "con- 
troversial, bizarre, or 
timely," it was amenable 
to "wild promotion," (2) 
the budget was "substan- 
dard," and (3) its audience 
was teenaged. The teenpic 
is, according to Doherty, a 
historical derivative of the 
exploitation film tradition 
that dates at least as far 
back as the 1930s. In pre- 
senting requisite back- 
ground information re- 
garding the exploitation 
film, Doherty gives us a 

clear, enlightening, and 
entertainingly written 
analysis of the motion pic- 
ture industry in general, 
and in particular the gen- 
eral state of the industry 
after the advent of signifi- 
cant competition from tele- 
vision broadcasting. Much 
of this historical back- 
ground information will 
be immediately relevant to 
studies of genres other 
than that of the teenpic, 
and will be of interest to 
students of the motion pic- 
ture industry in general. 

Analysis of the teenpic 
genre itself recognizes sev- 
eral different subforms of 
the teenpic: "rock 'n' roll 
teenpics"; films concerned 
with juvenile crime, or 
"dangerous youth"; "hor- 
ror teenpics"; and an enig- 
matic category the author 
refers to as "the clean teen- 
pics." This latter label is 
applied to those films that 
were produced as a result 
of a cultural backlash di- 
rected against the "vio- 
lence, vice, and rock 'n' 
roll-ridden films" usually 
associated with the teen- 
pic. These included such 
films as Bemardine, Shaggy 
Dog, Tammy and the Bache- 
lor, and April Love. 

Teenagers and Teenpics 
makes a cogent argument 
for the acceptance of the 
teenpic as a distinctive 
genre that is worthy of 
study, while offering a 
clear taxonomic structure 
for analytical study of the 
teenpic by future scholars. 

. . . Steven Phipps 

Indiana-Purdue University 

at Fort Wayne 


By Colin Mackerras. 
• Oxford University Press 
•1989,368 pp. 
•$29.95, Cloth 

fessor of modern Asian 
studies describes the ways 
in which Westerners have 
perceived China by exam- 
ining significant accounts 
from history, literature, 
and the media and judging 
the effects the power rela- 
tions of the day have had 
on Western views. 

The first two parts of his 
book deal with Western 
images of China's present 
during the period prior to 
1949, and with Western 
images of China's past 
during the same period. 
The third section describes 
and evaluates Western im- 
ages of the People's Re- 
public of China. There are 
extensive notes and bibli- 

Mackerras poses Michel 
Foucault's "power/knowl- 
edge" concept as a guide 
to his study, and con- 
cludes that the dominant 
images of most periods 
have tended to be in ac- 
cord with, rather than op- 
pose, the interests of the 
main Western authorities 
or governments of the day. 
His major example, of 
course, was the dramatic 
shift in American attitude 
toward the People's Re- 
public in the wake of 
President Nixon's 1972 
visit to a cotmtry subjected 
to a bitter anti-China pol- 
icy since 1950. 

The study finds the low 
point of Western images of 


AJ /Spring 1990 

China to be in the nine- 
teenth and early twentieth 
centuries. Mackerras 
judges iniages to be 
mainly favorable since 
1976, but finds academics 
and journalists in the late 
1980s to be more skeptical 
of the People's Republic 
than the popular outlook. 
The shock of the June 1989 
events in Tiananmen 
Square confirms his judg- 

. . . Edwin Emery (ret.) 
University of Minnesota 


Edited by Tom Goldstein. 

• Columbia University Press 
•1989.272 pp. 

• $38, Cloth 

sembling the pieces for 
Killing the Messenger was 
to "bring to a wider audi- 
ence some often neglected 
pieces of seminal thnking 
about the press." To that 
end he has chosen contri- 
butions from fifteen U.S. 
critics, men whose creden- 
tials for assessing press 
performance range from 
those of Spiro Agnew to 
those of Louis Brandeis. 
The earlier years of the pe- 
riod are emphasized in the 
collection, in order to 
make visible contributions 
that the editor believes are 
less accessible and less vis- 
ible than they deserve to 

Section 1, on "reporting 
on public and private mat- 
ters," presents works by 

Louis Brandeis and 
Samuel Warren, William 
Allen White, and George 
Seldes. Section 2, covering 
journalists and their bi- 
ases, includes work of 
Theodore Roosevelt on 
muckraking, Spiro Ag- 
new's speeches on media 
bias, Walter Lippmann 
and Charles Merz's cri- 
tique of the New York 
Times's coverage of the 
Russian Revolution, and 
Clifton Daniel's account of 
the same newspaper's cov- 
erage of the Bay of Pigs 
invasion. Represented in 
"The Power and Limita- 
tions of the Press" are Will 
Irwin, Upton Sinclair, Carl 
Ackerman, and Robert 
Maynard Hutchins. Re- 
garding the task of im- 
proving reporting, the 
volume includes Joseph 
Pulitzer's views on the 
need for journalism educa- 
tion and the examination 
of the media and news 
about minorities prepared 
by the Commission on 
Civil Disorders. Finally, 
under "news and reality" 
are the contributions of 
Frederick Lewis Allen and 
John Hersey. 

The editor's desire to 
bring to current scholars 
and journalists a heritage 
of earlier criticism un- 
doubtedly will be fulfilled. 
While such selections as 
those from the commis- 
sions on freedom of the 
press and on civil disor- 
ders are readily available, 
others are less visible and 

Fortunately, the selec- 
tions are more closely fo- 
cussed than the title sug- 
gests. The material is lim- 
ited to criticism of the 

news media, principally 
daily newspapers. The 
subtitle misleadingly sug- 
gests that "media criti- 
cism," a broader subject, is 
the topic. One also can 
quarrel with the main title. 
Killing the Messenger. The 
critics whose works are in- 
cluded do not, in fact, con- 
centrate on blaming news- 
papers for the conditions 
on which they report but 
rather criticize joumalisfic 
practices and perform- 

These quarrels aside, 
many readers will be 
grateful for an introduc- 
tion to such thinkers as 
Seldes, Irwin, and Sinclair 
and for the opportunity to 
examine the fascinating 
study of the Times's re- 
porting on the Russian 
Revolution by Lippmann 
and Merz. 

Regrettably, the collec- 
tion does not give any sug- 
gestion that a rich critical 
literature has been pro- 
duced by female critics of 
the news media. Gaye 
Tuchman's writing on 
symbolic annihilation of 
women by the mass media 
would have made a pow- 
erful contribution to the 
section on journalists and 
their biases. 

. . . Jean Ward 
University of Minnesota 




TULSA, OK 74104 




BYU Library S 

OCT 2 8 2005 

SUMMER 1990 
Published by the American Journalism Historians Association 





An Anglo-American 

Press Conflict 



Review Essay: 

Film, Television, and 

Visual Communication 

O'Keeffe, Steiglitz 
and the Critics 

Hollywood Speaks 

Daniel Defoe: His Life 

How Many Words 
Do You Want? 

The Culture of Print 

New Essays 
by Henry Fielding 

The Biography 
ofOttmar Mergarithaler 

Mass Media in China 

Hattie/See You at the 

. . . and more 


• "Such Things Can Only Happen in 
America": British Press Response 
to the Scopes Trial 

The "Monkeyville" Trial As Evidence of the 

Degradation of Modem Culture. 

Dean Rapp 148 

• CBS World News Roundup: Setting the 
Stage for the Next Half Century 

CBS Radio Gathers Its Correspondents 

from across Europe for a Momentous Broadcast. 

Donald G. Godfrey 164 


John J. Pauly 



Pamela A. Brown 

Rider College 

Gary Whitby 

Central Missouri State 


Nancy Roberts 



Sharon M.W. Bass 


Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 


Barbara Buckley 



Wm. David Sloan 


Gary Whitby 

Central Missouri State 



Maurine Beasley 



Leomard Teel 

Georgia State 


Donald Avery 

Southern Mississippi 


Perry Ashley 

South Carolina 

Roy Atwood 

Elaine Berland 


Lester Carson 


Edward Caudill 


Barbara Qoud 

Nevada-Las Vegas 

Carol Sue Hvunphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Nancy Roberts 



American Journalism publishes 
articles, research notes, book 
reviews, and correspondence 
dealing with the history of 
journalism. Such contribu- 
tions may focvis on social, 
economic, intellectual, politi- 
cal, or legal issues. American 
Journalism also welcomes ar- 
ticles that treat the history of 
communication in general; the 
history of broadcasting, ad- 
vertising, and public relations; 
the history of media outside 
the Uiuted States; and theo- 
retical issues in the literature 
or methods of media history. 

SUBMISSIONS. AU articles, 
research notes, and corre- 
spondence should be sent to 
Professor John Pauly, Editor, 
American Journalism, Faculty 
of Communication, Univer- 
sity of Tulsa, 600 S. College 
Avenue, Tulsa, Oklahoma 
74104. Authors should send 
four copies of manuscripts 
submitted for publication as 
articles. American Journalism 
follows the style require- 
ments of The Chicago Manual 
of Style. The maximum length 
for most manuscripts is 
twenty-five pages, not includ- 
ing notes and tables. 

All submissions are blind 
refereed by three readers, and 
the review process typically 
takes about three months. 
Maniiscripts will be returned 
only if the author has includ- 
ed a self-addressed stamped 

Research notes are typically 
three- to six-page manu- 
scripts, written without for- 
mal documentation. Such 
notes, which are not blind 
refereed, may include reports 
of research in progress, dis- 
cussions of methodology, an- 
notations on new archival 
sources, commentaries on is- 
sues in journalism history, or 
suggestions for future re- 
search. Authors who wish to 
contribute research notes are 
invited to query the editor. 

Anyone who wishes to re- 
view books for American 
Journalism, or to propose a 
book for review, should con- 
tact Professor Nancy Roberts, 
Book Review Editor, American 
Journalism, School of Journal- 
ism and Mass Commvmica- 
tion. University of Miimesota, 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 

American Journalism is pro- 
duced on a Macintosh com- 
puter, using Microsoft Word 
and Pagemciker software. Au- 
thors of manuscripts accepted 
for publication are encour- 
aged, but not required, to 
submit their work on a DOS- 
based or Macintosh disk. 

ADVERTISING. Information 
on advertising rates and 
placements is available from 
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Journalism (ISSN 0882-1127) 
is published quarterly by the 
American Journalism Histori- 
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versity of Tulsa. Subscriptions 
to American Journalism cost 
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COPYRIGHT. © American 
Journalism Historians Asso- 
ciation, 1990. Articles in 
American Journalism maybe 
photocopied for fair xise in 
teaching, research, criticism, 
and news reporting, in accor- 
dance with Sections 107 and 
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Law. For all other purposes, 
users must obtain permission 
from the Editor. 

REFEREES. Thanks to the 
following editorial board 
members, who have recently 
read manuscripts for 
American Journalism. 

Paul Ashdown 


John Behrens 

Utica College of Syracuse 

Newell Boyd 

Houston Baptist 

Michael Buchholz 

Indiana State 

Thomas Connery 

College of St. Thomas 

Anne Cooper 


David Eason 


Eldon Eisenach 


Kathleen Endres 


Lars Engle 


Ted Glasser 


Myron Jordan 

Washington State 

Sidney Kobre 

Maryland Community College 

Philip Lane 

California State-Fresno 

Linda Lawson 


Jack Lule 


William Matsen 

Bemidji State 
Jerilyn Mclntyre 


Joseph McKems 

Ohio State 

Catherine Mitchell 

North Carolina-Asheville 

E.A. Nickerson 


Vincent Norris 

Pennsylvania State 

Quentin Schultze 

Calvin College 

James Startt 


Thomas Volek 


Reg Westmoreland 

North Texas 

Joel Wiener 

City College of New York 


WHEN THIS JOURNAL began several years ago, it 
took American Journalism as its title, in a deliberate 
echo of Frank Luther Mott's famous history. But the 
study of even American journalism now often begins 
with a turn to the international. Both articles in this 
issue illustrate the consequences of that turn. 

Donald Godfrey's study of the first radio news 
roundup reminds us that international warfare has 
always won journalism's undivided attention. War 
continues to be perhaps the archetypal news story, 
the compelling event that ultimately justifies jour- 
nalists' sense of hurry. But increasingly journalists 
turn to the world whether in war or peace. They find 
themselves able to chart major economic or political 
stories only with the help of global coordinates. 

Dean Rapp's study of British press reaction to the 
Scopes trial reminds us of a second sense in which 
American journalism can be considered international. 
Its daily chronicle of life in the United States offers up 
"America" as an object of worldwide contemplation 
and debate. Even the simplest news story may tell a 
moral tale about the character and direction of 
American life. 

That life, it seems, still means a great deal to the rest 
of the world. Sometimes, as in Rapp's instance, the 
story of "America" forebodes a dark future: a de- 
based mass culture washes over the world, or com- 
puterized weapons (with a great show of devoutness 
and sincerity) set the world ablaze. At other times, 
however, the talk about "America" reminds us of a 
promise, a vow to repudiate all ancient blood feuds, 
a pledge to open our hands and start anew. 

Journalism carries stories about America to the 
world. But it is itself also a character in those stories. 
To the extent that journalism plays both roles with 
honor, it earns for America the world's respect as well 
as its curiosity. 




accurate reporting on the 
Titanic disaster in mid- 
April 1912, in the British 
daily press, became a mat- 
ter of serious concern to 
some British editors and 
journalists. To some, such 
as the veteran London 
newsman Charles T. 
Bateman, the Titanic trag- 
edy offered "a notable ex- 
ample" of the manner in 
which news often reached 
the British press from 
American sources and was 
received and processed by 
the various editorial staffs 
in London. 

Bateman first voiced his 
criticisms in an article on 
"The Daily Papers and the 
Titanic' Disaster," pub- 
lished in the London 
weekly trade paper the 
Newspaper Owner on 20 
April, five days after the 
sinking of the Titanic. 
Bateman asserted that the 
fate of the Titanic was an- 
other example of how the 
daily press and the news 
agencies are "unwisely 
served by their regular 
American and Canadian 
correspondents." Indeed, 
beginning with the prem- 
ise that "Neither the 
American nor the Cana- 
dian journalists who con- 
tribute to the British dai- 
lies or news agencies are to 
be congratulated on their 
earlier messages" on the 

fate of the Titanic, Bateman 
examined their "faulty" 

The most serious were 
the reports to British pa- 
pers from their New York 
correspondents that all 
passengers on the Titanic 
were transferred to the 
Parisian, the first ship to 
reach the scene, and that 
the Titanic was taken in 
tow by the Virginian. 
When the Times of London 
queried the source of these 
reports, it found that they 
were based on intelligence 
from the Central News 
Agency. The agency, in 
turn, had obtained its news 
from reports published in 
New York evening papers 
and allegedly based on in- 
formation derived from 
the White Star Line, the 
owners of the Titanic. 
Bateman used this item to 
emphasize "the peril of 
printing cables that are 
largely inspired by the 
New York evening papers" 
and the "foolishness" of 
British correspondents in 
cabling "the merest gossip 
or surmise as bed-rock 
facts." He blamed the 
managers of the White 
Star Line in the United 
States and Britain for not 
telling the press all that 
they knew of what had 
happened to the Titanic, as 
well as the newsmen 
"dupes," who failed to ex- 
ercise "scrupulous care" in 
verifying what they had 
been told. He also charged 
that the correspondents 
and reporters seemed 

interested only in securing 
and relaying "spicy copy" 
for their editors. 

Worse yet, on "close in- 
spection," Bateman found 
that all too many of the ar- 
ticles published on the Ti- 
tanic were "rehashed from 
those published a few 
days previously when the 
Titanic first sailed from 
Southhampton" on 10 
April. The result was that 
the readers were con- 
strained "to wander aim- 
lessly through a mass of 
confusing reports and ru- 
mours instead of prepar- 
ing for them a connected 
account based on intelli- 
gence that may be de- 
scribed as 'official' and 
discriminating between 
that and other statements 
that come to hand." It is 
incumbent, said Bateman, 
that "All correspondents 
should have instructions 
to state the precise source 
of their information at 
times of great sensation, 
and [that] the reports . . . 
should begin: . . . 'Our 
New York correspondent 
gathers from the New 
York papers' — and the 
narrative should be 
printed with this reserve." 

Bateman also noted that 
the early deadline adopted 
by many newspaper man- 
agers (so that their papers 
would reach distant parts 
of the nation in time to be 
read at breakfast) ex- 
plained why some dailies 
were "outdistanced" by 
competitors who had ren- 
dered news of the Titanic 

on Wednesday morning 
(17 April). Thus people in 
Oxford read in their pa- 
pers on Tuesday morning 
(16 April) that all of the Ti- 
tanic passengers were safe, 
only to find when arriving 
in, say, Leeds that those 
living further away had al- 
ready learned that almost 
all passengers had been 
lost at sea. 

In order to understand 
the manner in which the 
morning press dealt with 
the news of the loss of the 
Titanic, Bateman examined 
all of the major London 
dailies. He found that they 
varied widely in the tim- 
ing, detail, and source of 
their coverage of the trag- 

In the same issue of the 
Newspaper Oumer (20 
April), another journalist, 
writing over the initials 
"E.C.S.," rendered an ac- 
count of "The Titanic' 
Disaster. How the News 
Came Through." E.C.S. 
described what had oc- 
curred as a classic "stop- 
press" sensation, mainly 
because the morning pa- 
pers 'locked up the 
formes" of their Tuesday 
(16 April) issue, confident 
that the liner was being 
towed to Halifax. There 
was, said E.C.S., "a keen 
sense of relief" in the 
newsrooms that there was 
no loss of life in this "un- 
sinkable" ship. But no 
sooner had the presses 
done their work when 
"this optimism was de- 
stroyed" and "first editions 
were thrown out of date as 
completely as the evening 
papers of the previous 
night." However, the pa- 
pers going to press later 

than some of their contem- 
poraries were able to "save 
themselves" by providing 
a more accurate account of 
what had happened to the 

E.C.S. praised Reuters 
News Agency for the 
prompt and efficient serv- 
ice it rendered in sending 
the first message at 12:45 
a.m. on Tuesday that the 
Titanic had gone down at 
2:20 a.m. on Monday. At 
first, some of the papers 
were skeptical of the infor- 
mation from Reuters and 
contended, in view of the 
news of the Titanic' s move- 
ments published in the 
evening papers on Mon- 
day (15 April), that the 
time for the sinking of the 
ship should have been 
listed as 2:20 p.m. But these 
doubts vanished as soon 
as the Reuters dispatch 
was confirmed by intelli- 
gence from other sources. 
There then followed "a 
quick succession of mes- 
sages," coming mostly 
from New York, based on 
communications from the 
ships that had come to the 
aid of the Titanic. At this 
point, noted E.C.S., "the 
difference in time has to be 
taken into account when 
calculating the hour at 
which the true dimensions 
of the disaster were made 
known in this country." 

The cables were in con- 
stant use between one and 
three a.m. on Tuesday and 
almost every message 
seemed to be so much "old 
meat" to the editors. Yet 
E.C.S. was convinced that 
there was no "embroi- 
dery" of the news and that 
none of the information, 
"cabled at high pressure," 

was disproved by later in- 
telligence on the fate of the 
Titanic. And, according to 
E.C.S.,"They represented 
... all the news obtainable 
then and for many hours 
afterwards." What also 
helped was the courtesy 
and cooperation of the 
White Star Line office in 
immediately communicat- 
ing, even before seven a.m. 
on Tuesday, whatever 
"scrap of information" the 
White Star management 
had available on what had 
happened to its great liner, 
and inviting the press to 
ring their office as often as 
they liked. 

A week later, on 27 
April, the journalist "M" 
wrote about "The Titanic 
Story" in the regular 
"Newspaper and the 
News" column of the 
Newspaper Owner. "M" 
generally supported 
E.C.S.'s point of view and 
indirectly challenged 
Bateman's assertions. "M" 
declared that "Never in 
British history . . . have 
newspapers been called 
upon to give their readers 
such a thrilling story as 
that of the sinking of the 
Titanic, . . . awful in its de- 
tail but raised to the height 
of grandeur by its stories 
of simple duty and noble 
devotion." "M" also noted 
that much had been writ- 
ten of "the many false sto- 
ries" during the earlier 
part of the week and that 
the press had been con- 
demned by many for its 
role in publishing those 
earlier untruths. "Arm 
chair criticism is easy," 
said "M," by those who in- 
sist that all news should be 
verified by editors before 


AJ /Summer 1990 

publication, but what 
more could an editor do 
than what was done? Edi- 
tors have no choice but to 
accept in good faith the 
news coming through rec- 
ognized news agencies 
and from accredited over- 
seas correspondents. 

If blame must be appor- 
tioned for the earlier 
grossly misleading dis- 
patches on the fate of the 
Titanic, argued "M," on 
the basis of "all evidence 
. . . now available it is 
fairly conclusive that the 
fault lay not with the Brit- 
ish press but with the 
American correspondents. 
Never so safe and cautious 
as their English brethren, 
they were perhaps even 
more rash upon this occa- 
sion; and as the news pub- 
lished over here was nec- 
essarily almost exclusively 
received from the other 
side, our papers — and 
their readers — have expe- 
rienced a week or so of 
American journalism. 
Some of the inaccuracies 
are explainable . . . but 
there remains much for the 
American press to account 

Therefore, as far as the 
British press is concerned, 
said "M," "the hasty 
judgements passed upon it 
must be reversed." In fact, 
"With such a multiplicity 
of conflicting messages ar- 
riving almost simultane- 
ously, and with no avail- 
able means of verifying 
them, . . . the position was 

unique But of the 

treatment of the news as it 
arrived there can only be 
one fair conclusion . . . 
[t]he British press did its 
utmost in urrfavourable 

and unprecedented cir- 

On 18 May, Bateman 
dealt with the misleading 
dispatches in his article, 
"The False Titanic Mes- 
sages. Is London or New 
York Responsible?" It is, 
he declared, "For the 
honour of the British 
press" that the source of 
the "false messages" which 
"completely deceived eve- 
ryone" must be discerned. 
According to the testimony 
of the general manager of 
Associated Press of Amer- 
ica, Melville E. Stone, to 
the United States Senate 
inquiry on the Titanic dis- 
aster, the American press 
held the London newspa- 
pers responsible for the er- 
roneous reports. Stone 
specifically blamed the 
Montreal Star primarily, 
and the Exchange Tele- 
graph Company secondar- 
ily, for informing the Lon- 
don press and the Associ- 
ated Press office in Lon- 
don that all of the Titanic's 
passengers had been res- 
cued and were en route to 

The managing director of 
the Exchange Telegraph 
Company, Wilfred King, 
immediately refuted 
Stone's charges by show- 
ing that the two messages 
sent by the Exchange 
Company on 15 April, 
concerning the evacuation 
to Halifax and the safety of 
all Titanic passengers, had 
originated in New York. 
Examining what five ma- 
jor London evening news- 
papers had published on 
15 April, Bateman found 
that all except one — the 
Evening News (which had 
relied on news from Hal- 

ifax) — had received from 
New York information 
that all passengers were 
safely evacuated from the 
Titanic. Unfortunately, 
said Bateman, the pub- 
lished dispatches gave the 
impression that the Ex- 
change Telegraph Com- 
pany had received its in- 
formation from Halifax in- 
stead of New York. Appar- 
ently, the London bureau 
of the Associated Press 
had immediately cabled 
the message, as printed in 
the Evening News, to New 
York as news received 
from the Halifax corre- 
spondent of the Exchange 
Telegraph Company! To 
Bateman, such transmis- 
sion was "a strange proce- 
dure," especially since the 
Associated Press bureau in 
London probably had the 
Exchange Company's 
cable machine in its office. 

On the other hand, 
Melville Stone accused the 
British news agencies of 
supplying "false news" 
while his own agency, 
from the English side, 
cabled back to New York 
information that had a 
short time before come 
from the United States. In- 
deed, the Associated Press 
bureau in London insisted 
that the messages in ques- 
tion were cabled to Britain 
from Halifax "by the rep- 
resentatives of the British 
news agencies" and subse- 
quently published in al- 
most all of the London dai- 
lies. The Westminster Ga- 
zette immediately assured 
Bateman that it had not re- 
ceived any messages from 
Halifax on the rescue of 
the Titani(fs passengers, 
and that the only commu- 

Research Notes 


nication it had received 
about the Titanic came 
from New York. For 
Bateman here was "irrefu- 
table" evidence that the 
London bureau of the As- 
sociated Press had "sent 
back to New York news 
that had come from that 
centre, in a form that was 
inaccurate and unwar- 
rantable." Thus the Ex- 
change Telegraph Com- 
pany was not to blame for 
the misleading messages, 
but the London bureau of 
the Associated Press. 
Bateman added that, as the 
Exchange Telegraph Com- 
pany readily admitted, the 
news it had received from 
New York was obtained 
from reports in the New 
York press and "else- 

Bateman's article termi- 
nated the discussion and 
firmly placed the blame 
for the grossly wrong in- 
formation on the fate of 
the Titanic, its passengers, 
and crew on the American 
news media. However, it 
is interesting to note that 
he dropped his criticism of 
the alleged "tendency" of 
British correspondents to 
communicate, and their 
editors to publish, unveri- 
fied news reports and his 
insistence that foreign cor- 
respondents should iden- 
tify the source of their in- 

But perhaps more signifi- 
cant is the fact that this 
controversy on the report-, 
ing of the Titanic disaster 
revealed the London 
press's low opinion of the 
practices and veracity of 
American journalism and 
journalists. It also sheds 
some light on the state of 

Anglo-American press re- 
lations, which in many 
ways had not been good 
since the emergence of the 
"New Journalism" in Brit- 
ain during the 1880s and 
its more sensational off- 
spring in Northcliffe's 
daily journalism at the 
turn of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. Much of the sensa- 
tionalism and excess of the 
"New Journalism" in Brit- 
ain was attributed to its 
emulation of American 
press practices and popu- 
lar journalism. In any 
event, this controversy on 
the reporting of the Titanic 
tragedy emphasizes the 
need for greater research 
and study of Anglo- 
American press relation- 
ships since the nineteenth 

. . . J.O. Baylen (Emeritus) 
Eastbourne, England 





In Americans' Debates over Evolution, 
the British Foresee the Rise of Mass Culture 

Dean Rapp 

Dean Rapp teaches 
British and Euro- 

Kean history at 
fheaton College, 
Illinois. He is the 
author of Samuel 
181 5: A Social and 
Political Study 
(Gariand, 1987), 
and of a number of 
articles in Ameri- 
can, British, and 
Canadian histori- 
cal journals. 

IN JULY 1925, WHILE JOHN SCOPES was being tried in Dayton 
for having violated a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of 
human evolution in the state's schools, it was often remarked 
that not only America but the whole worid was fascinated by the 
proceedings.^ This was certainly true of Britain, where the Lon- 
don newspap)ers, which circulated nationally, provided exten- 
sive trial coverage that was in turn commented u|X)n by a wide 
variety of other periodicals. Of course the interest of the British 
press in the trial was not so intense as that in America. There 
were no banner headlines about it, few pictures or cartoons, and 
quantitatively much less coverage: of the dailies, the Telegraph 
published the most material (triple that of the Times of London), 
but the amount of news space it gave to the trial during its ten 
days was roughly equivalent to just two days' worth of the trial 
reportage in the New York Times. Yet the trial was considered 
newsworthy enough that, on average, the dailies printed pieces 
about it in sixteen of their twenty-seven issues during July. 

This essay points out that this British interest in the trial was 
prompted in part by its fascinatingly bizarre human interest 
elements, which most dailies sensationalized for their readers' 
summer amusement. Although during the 1920s straightfor- 
ward economic and political news predominated in its coverage 
of America, the British press was always on the lookout for such 

1 . There are no studies of the response of the British press to the Scopes trial. As 
for the American press response to the trial, this study is particularly indebted 
to: Donald F. Brod, "The Scopes Trial: A Look at Press Coverage after Forty 
Years," Journalism Quarterly 42 (Spring 1%5): 219-26; Ed Caudill, "A Content 
Analysis of Press Views of Darwin's Evolution Theory, 1860-1925," Journalism 
Quarterly (Winter 1987): 782-86, 946; Charles Edward Caudill, "The Evolution 
of an Idea: Darwin and the American Press, 1860-1925" (Ph.D. diss.. University 
of North Carolina, 1986); "Larger Aspects of the Dayton Trial," Literary Digest, 
1 August 1925, 9-11; Marvin N. Olasky, "When Worid Views Collide: Journal- 
ists and the Great Monkey Trial," American Journalism 4 (Summer 1987): 133-46. 

uniquely dramatic stories. Some of them evoked a favorable 
response, like Charles Lindbergh's nonstop trans- Atlantic solo 
flight, which symbolized the Americans' dynamic vitality and 
optimism that many British admired. On the other hand. Prohi- 
bition was massively but unfavorably reported, in a manner not 
dissimilar to that of the Scopes trial, while the execution of Sacco 
and Vanzetti was denounced. It was in its commentary on such 
stories in particular that the British press analyzed the character 
and influence of American culture. This was likewise the case 
with the Scop)es trial, for, as will be argued, its primary attraction 
was that it enabled British commentators to claim that Britain 
was culturally superior to the United States, thereby providing 
an outlet for their postwar resentments of the accelerating Ameri- 
canization of British popular culture, and the growing wealth 
and power of the United States. Drawing on the more unfavor- 
able elements of a long-standing British characterization of 
Americanism, they asserted that the trial manifested America's 
rampant commercialism, dominated by excessive advertising 
and the media; its propensity to standardize thought; and most 
importantly, its intellectual inferiority as evidenced by the ob- 
scurantist, anti-evolutionist Fundamentalists, who governed in 
America to a degree inconceivable in progressive Britain.^ Based 
upon such contentions, they complacently concluded of the trial 
that "such things can only happen in America."^ 

Although this overall interpretation of the trial was distinc- 
tively British, in its separate components it was quite similar to 
the unfavorable commentary of the big city newspapers of the 
northeastern and midwestem states, perhaps in part because 
most of the reporters for the London dailies filed their trial 
reportage from the Eastern seaboard, only the two from the 
News and the Telegraph actually reporting from Dayton itself. But 
as will also be observed, viewpoints apparently borrowed by 
British reporters from their urban American colleagues were 
usually given a decidedly British slant. This essay's interpreta- 
tion of the British response to the trial is based upon the report- 
age of it in forty-four pteriodicals. To insure a representative 
sample and a wide range of different perspectives, the survey 
included seven of the sixteen London dailies; the leading provin- 
cial daily; and many of the most influential secular and religious 
weeklies and monthlies, which along with the newspapers 
spanned the political spectrum from conservative to socialist, 
and embraced Protestant and Catholic viewpoints, both theo- 
logically liberal and very conservative.* 

2. For the most comprehensive overview of British attitudes to America during 
the 1920s, see George Harmon Knoles, The Jazz Age Revisited: British Criticism ^ 
American Civilization during the 1920s (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 

3. Saturday Review. 25 July 1925, 87. 

4. The following were surveyed: (1) London dailies: Chronicle, Herald, Mail, 
News, Telegraph, Morning Post, Times; (2) the daily Manchester Guardian and the 
Sunday Observer; (3) secular weeklies and monthlies: Contemporary Review, 

"h shall be unlaw- 
ful for any teacher 
in any of the uni- 
versities, nornials 
and all other pub- 
lic schools of the 
state, which are 
supported in whole 
or in part by the 
public school funds 
of the state, to 
teach any theory 
that denies the 
story of the Divine 
creation of man as 
taught in the Bible, 
andto teach in- 
stead that man has 
descended from a 
lower order of ani- 
- from Section 1 
of Tennessee's 


AJ /Summer 1990 

• • • • • 
"This statute con- 
tains nothing what- 
ever in reference 
to teaching the 
theory of evolution 
in the public 
schools of Ten- 
nessee. And, your 
Honor, the caption 
contains nothing 
else— nothing 

- excerpt from 
Clarence Darrow's 

remarks at the 
Scopes trial. 

Although both the British and American press highlighted 
the zanier aspects of the spectacle at Dayton, the British gave it 
their own twist by invariably interpreting it as a reflection of 
typically American traits, as defined of course by the British 
themselves. It was the "biggest show since Barnum," as several 
British journalists remarked, thereby emphasizing the Ameri- 
can nature of the showmanship. While American papers like- 
wise reported that Daytonian businessmen were selling monkey 
umbrellas and monkey neckties, to the British this was proof of 
the ubiquity of American commercialism, as were the "Ameri- 
can showmen" who busily exhibited to Daytonians performing 
apes and a dwarf dubbed the "missing link."^ 

To the British, American-style publicity techniques were 
equally all-pervasive at Dayton. Since America's "rampant" 
publicity agents, as one commentator charged, were "prepared 
to run anything and anybody in the United States," he consid- 
ered it no doubt true as rumored that the Daytonians had hired 
such agents to boost their town. Nor was the gossip unlikely, 
according to another reporter, that the trial would be held in a 
baseball stadium from which it would be broadcast nationally 
by radio — an absurd prospect, but "being America," a "wholly 
probable" one. Even more likely was that American publicity 
techniques would mar the trial reportage of American journal- 
ists so that their accounts would be filled with "all those gro- 
tesque features that accompany an American Press sensation."^ 

Of course, nearly all the London dailies likewise sensational- 
ized the affair, as indicated by such multi-deck headlines as — 
"Camp-Meeting under the Big Speaker. Open- Air Revivalism in 
Monkeytown, Tenn. Sobs and Cheers."^ Typically this referred 
not to any event in the trial, but to its colorful sidelights. Else- 
where in the press, such sensationalizing of the trial was itself 
considered a pernicious American influence, as when one peri- 
odical chided the press for allowing this "American method" to 
sweep the field of British newspaper journalism, a charge of 
traditionalists ever since the "New Journalism" of the 1880s had 
commenced borrowing techniques from the American press.* 
Though by the 1920s even the Times had incorporated some of 

Discovery, Illustrated London News, John O'London's, Journal of Education, Lancet, 
Nation, Nature, New Age, New Statesman, Outlook, Review of Reviews, Round Table, 
Saturday Review, Schooimaster, Spectator; (4) Protestant mainstream papers: 
Baptist Times, Christian World, Guardian, Inquirer, Methodist Recorder, Methodist 
Times, Modem Churchman, Primitive Methodist Leader, Theology, United Methodist; 
(5) Protestant evangelical papers: Christian, Christian Herald, Dawn, English 
Churchman, Journal of the Wesley Bible Union, Record; (6) Catholic papers: C.K.'s 
Weekly, Month, Tablet (the first was conservative, the latter two more liberal). 

5. News, 11 July 1925, 7; Review of Reviews, 15 August 1925, 118; Herald, 7 July 
1925, 1; Telegraph, 15 July 1925, 11; Mail, 18 July 1925, 6. 

6. niustraUd London News, 1 August 1925, 198; Manchester Guardian, 1 July 1925, 
9; Review of Reviews, 15 August 1925, 74. 

7. Chronicle, 20 July 1925, 7. 

8. British Weekly, 9 July 1925, 318. 



these techniques, its reportage on the Scopes trial differed from 
the other dailies' by avoiding the jocularly derisive term "Mon- 
keyville" and eschewing emotional headlines for the decidedly 
dull and unvarying "The Tennessee Trial." Yet those papers 
whose coverage was more sensational were not wholly so — two 
of them published expository articles by eminent pro-evolution- 
ist scientists who in clear, nontechnical terms marshalled the 
current evidence for human evolution, while pointing out that 
still more knowledge was needed to fill certain gaps in the 
theory. Except for a tripartite expository article by another scien- 
tist in the Manchester Guardian, the press did little else to educate 
their readers about evolution, for most newspapers were pri- 
marily interested in highlighting the Dayton affair itself.' 

Like many of their American counterparts, British newspa- 
pers disapprovingly reported that, the spectacle outside the 
courtroom infiltrated the legal proceedings, turning them "into 
a three-ringed circus" paralleling that outdoors. But this too was 
interpreted as typically American. The American love of public- 
ity was detected in the shocking courtroom delays to allow pho- 
tographers and motion picture cameramen to take everyone's 
pictures. It was observed operating in the curiously inappropri- 
ate mixture of this publicity machine with religion, as capsulized 
in the headline "Prayer and Flashlights in the Great Heresy Trial. 
Judge Brings Bible and Dictionary, Then Poses for Camera." 
And it was readily perceived in the solicitous recognition of the 
needs of radio broadcasting by the Fundamentalist judge, who 
was mocked for assiduously chewing gum close to a micro- 
phone so that his smallest whisper could be heard by his millions 
of listeners. Thus when one periodical remarked of the trial that 
Americans were the "best advertisers in the world," it was not 
meant as an altogether complementary comment.^" 

Equally disturbing to British journalists was the courtroom 
use of such skills to manipulate public opinion. One editorialist 
was particularly disgusted that both prosecutors and defenders 
used the trial to advertise to the American people their views 
regarding evolution. This courtroom manipulation of public 
opinion, he contended, was "unlike anything conceivable in the 
Courts of most European countries," and resulted in the total 
disappearance of the dignity expected in any British court. Yet he 
presumed to know exactly why Americans were so adept at such 

9. See G. Elliot Smith, "Man and the Ape," Mail, 16 July 1925, 8; J. Arthur 
Thomson, "Evolution or the Bible?" News, 14 July 1925, 6; Julian Huxley, "The 
Darwinian Theory of Evolution," Manchester Guardian, 13 August 1925, 7-8; 14 
August 1925, 9-10; 15 August 1925, 11-12. Smith was professor of anatomy at 
the University of London; Thomson, Regius Professor of natural history at 
Aberdeen University; and Huxley, professor of zoology at King's College, Lon- 

10. "Religion and Science in Tennessee," Round Table, September 1925, 736; 
News, 15 July 1925, 7; Chronicle, U July 1925, 3; Christian World, 16 July 1925, 8; 
Record, 23 July 1925, 514. 

"The statute de- 
fines exactly what 
the people of Ten- 
nessee desired 
and Intended and 
did declare unlaw- 
ful and K needs no 
- excerpt from 

William Jennings 
Bryan's remarlcs at 

the Scopes trial. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"[The anti-evolu- 
tion statute] is full 
of weird, stranae, 
impossible and 
imaginary provi- 
sions. Driven by 
bigotry and nar- 
rowness they 
come together and 
make this statute 
and bring this liti- 

- Darrow. 

manipulation — it had been raised in Annerica "to a fine art by the 
experience of party caucuses and of Presidential campaigns."^^ 

While British commentators were convinced that American- 
ism pervaded the spectacle of the trial, some were less certain 
that it could account for its dominating issue, which the British 
press, like the American one, proclaimed in its headlines to be 
the conflict of science versus religion: "'Genesis' v. Darwin," and 
"Angels or Apes?"^^ That this controversy should have arisen in 
America was perplexing to those who pondered how "a land 
reputedly inhabited by the most progressive of civilised peoples" 
could nevertheless be so reactionary as to denounce evolution 
and consider it incompatible with religion. Such comments 
assumed, as did the headline, "Truth v. Fanaticism" that evolu- 
tion was scientifically valid, thereby rendering it impossible for 
progressives to believe anything else. But if some believed that 
"American obscurantism" was a contradiction in terms,^' others 
found a readily available solution to this apparent paradox in the 
argument of the northern United States press that Fundamental- 
ist anti-evolutionism was a product, not of the whole country, 
but of the rural South, which culturally lagged far behind the 
North. A Washington correspondent for one London daily did 
dispute the characterization by the eastern press of Fundamen- 
talism as solely a southern phenomenon, countering that "the 
Fundamentalists in New York City are as bitter and bigoted as in 
Dayton." Moreover, a few British journalists reported that even 
in Tennessee there was an "educated minority," presumably 
evolutionist, while several Tennesseans currently in Britain 
wrote letters to the editor defending the state against the charges 
of intellectual backwardness, one of them pointing to Vanderbilt 
University as an example of the state's educational achieve- 
ments. This, however, was rebutted by an American academic 
who contended that Vanderbilt had about the same effect on the 
general intelligence of Tennesseans as Trinity College, Dublin, 
had on the popular culture of Ireland. He then advanced his own 
cultural lag interpretation: the Tennesseans, never having shaken 
off their frontier traits of intolerance and indifference to book 
learning, consequently opposed evolution violently, especially 
since they learned of it so recently and suddenly because they 
lived in remote rural areas far from the modern civilization of the 

Other Americans writing in the British press proffered similar 
cultural lag theories, which British commentators thereupon 
elaborated with a cruel caricature of the Tennessean Fundamen- 
talists that rivaled the mo st biased accounts of the New York City 

11. Times, 25 July 1925, 13. 

12. Morning Post, 11 July 1925, 11; 16 July 1925, 11. 

13. Mail, 16 July 1925, 8; "'Fundamentalism' and Evolution: Thoughts on the 
Dayton Trial," Review of Reviews, 15 August 1925, 118. 

14. Morning Post, 16 July 1925, 11; William Rufus Scott, letter to the editor. 
Observer, 16 July 1925, 18, and S.E. Morison, letter to the editor, 19 July 1925, 18. 



press. Ironically, the only favorable portrayal of Fundamental- 
ists was by Scopes himself, in an article for the News wherein he 
praised their congeniality and lovability, and credited them for 
their courteousness to him.^^ The closest British commentators 
themselves came to such charitableness was their condescend- 
ing description of Fundamentalists as simple, devout, country 
folk. But a harsher portrait predominated. To the British, Funda- 
mentalists were primitive agriculturalists who nevertheless 
exhibited the typically acquisitive modem business instincts of 
Americanism. Yet simultaneously they were quite irrational, as 
demonstrated by the "Holy Rollers" of the hills around Dayton, 
whose exuberant services, as one reporter marvelled, exuded 
the "atmosphere of medievalism mixed with radio. Ford cars 
and electric light." As for the Scopes trial jurors themselves, they 
were "mostly sun-baked farmers," one of whom was illiterate, as 
nearly every periodical informed its readers. Indeed, the jurors 
were so ignorant, as one journalist meanly joked, that they 
would no doubt think the square of the hypotenuse was some 
newfangled fertilizer. These uneducated Tennesseans, led by 
the chief prosecutor William Jennings Bryan — the "modern 
Inquisitor" — were carrying out the "terror of the Fundamental- 
ist Inquisition," which aimed at forcing on others such reaction- 
ary beliefs as Biblical literalism, anti-evolutionism, and a "pri- 
mordial hostility to science."^^ 

This British portrayal of Fundamentalism as a southern, anti- 
intellectual, anti-scientific movement was apparently borrowed 
from liberal American journalists, particularly those writing for 
the urban, progressive press. The progressives' disparagement 
of American business civilization and their condescension to- 
wards rural, small-town America paralleled that of the British 
elite, in part because the mindset of the late nineteenth century 
American progressives had itself been influenced by certain 
Victorian British social critics who had held these attitudes. Due 
to such earlier transatlantic influences, the progressives' view of 
Fundamentalism was even more attractive to British commenta- 
tors on the Scopes trial than might otherwise have been the case. 
In America, the liberal interpretation of Fundamentalism there- 
after dominated the historiography of it until the 1950s. But since 
the 1960s, a revisionist school has argued, among other things, 
that the Fundamentalists were not wholly rural, southern or 
uneducated. Indeed, strong northern, even urban, intellectual 
influences helped shape the Fundamentalist mindset. Nor were 
all Fundamentalists creationists, and among those who did be- 
lieve in special creative acts of God, only a minority thought that 
everything was created in six actual days, while others even 

15. News, 18 July 1925, 7. 

1 6. New Age, 30 July 1 925, 1 51 ; Mail, 1 1 July 1 925, 7; 14 July 1 925, 7; News, 1 3 July 
1925, 7; Outlook, 18 July 1925, 38; 25 July 1925, 51; Chronicle, 13 July 1925, 9; New 
Statesman, 17 June 1925, 305; T.P.'s WeeWy, 8 August 1925, 511. 

"K isn't proper to 
bring experts In 
here to try to de- 
feat the purpose of 
the people of this 
state by trying to 
show tfiat this 
thing that they de- 
nounce and out- 
law is a beautiful 
thing that every- 
body ought to be- 
lieve in." 

- Biyan. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"[John Scopes] Is 
here because ig- 
norance and big- 
otry are rampant, 
and it is a mlphty 
strong combina- 
tion, your Honor, it 
maices him fearful" 
- Darrow. 

allowed for considerable evolutionary development. Moreover, 
they were not so much anti-scientific as they were unsympa- 
thetic to Darwin's hypothetico-deductive method, preferring 
instead an old-fashioned Baconian view of science that empha- 
sized collecting hard facts without prior theorizing and then 
building non-speculative scientific conclusions on them.^^ Viewed 
in this historiographical context, the British press of the 1920s 
was propagating the initial elements of a mainstream American 
interpretation of Fundamentalism that would last for decades 
before being challenged. 

But British commentators of the 1920s inconsistently upheld 
this interpretation, for unlike the American liberal journalists 
who helped initiate it, they were often less interested in demon- 
strating that southerners lagged far behind northerners than 
they were in emphasizing the great extent to which Britain was 
intellectually advanced over Tennessee, the South, and perhaps 
most of the United States. In the hands of some journalists, 
enlightened America shrank to remarkably small proportions. 
As one of them complacently asserted, since only a few Ameri- 
can centers of learning, mostly in New England, had attained the 
cultural level of literally scores of Eurof>ean centers, the British 
"may now claim to be, in comparison with the bulk of Ameri- 
cans, a progressive people in religious and philosophical 

As British commentators diminished the size of enlightened 
America, so they enlarged the predominance of unenlightened 
Fundamentalism. Some clainr»ed that it governed half the coun- 
try, others suggested three-fourths, and one, relying on an 
American source, even reported that it was the viewpoint of 
ninety percent of the population. If it was so widespread, it could 
be legitimately attributed, not just to southern traits, but to 
American national characteristics. Consequently, some con- 
tended that its crusading spirit could be ascribed to American 
emotionalism, which also conveniently explained Bryan's na- 
tional prominence, for he had achieved it, so they argued, by 
successfully appealing to America's "gutsy emotionalism." It 
was to be expected, another commentator remarked, that waves 
of sentiment would periodically sweep across America, carrying 
everything before them, just as had already happened with 
Prohibition, an equally preposterous crusade to most British 

17. William E. Ellis, "Evolution, Fundamentalism, and the Historians: An His- 
toriographical Review," Historwn 44 (Novemberl981):15-35;RonaldL. Numbers, 
"The Creationists," in Cod and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter bettoeen 
Christianity and Science, ed. David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (Berkeley: 
University of California Press, 1986), 394-401; George M. Marsden, "Funda- 
mentalism," in Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience (New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988): 947-62. 

18. "'Fundamentalism' and Evolution," 119. 

19. Telegraph, 28 July 1925, 10; Cuardian, 17 July 1925, 622; "Religion and Science 



Indeed the parallel with Prohibition suggested still another 
American trait behind the Tennessee law — the American pro- 
pensity to standardize thought, as opposed to the "individual- 
ism which is the most marked characteristic of the Englishman." 
To some journalists, this distinction resolved the paradox so 
perplexing to others that in the "Land of Liberty," a "dark intol- 
erance of the Middle Ages" should have prompted a "cold- 
blooded attempt to reimpose intellectual slavery" on the schools. 
Instead of this being "history's greatest irony," as one commen- 
tator asserted, it could easily be explained by another's conten- 
tion that "We abhor 'standardisation,' which Americans love 
because they mistake it for efficiency. We retain a preference for 
individual freedom and for spontaneous irregularity." In con- 
trast, Americans "love uniformity in their institutions, their 
clothes and their ideas. As one of their writers has said, 'In 
America "liberty" means liberty to keep in step.'" Consequently, 
America was not so much a land of liberty after all, whereas 
England was happily "the freest country in the world," where 
such a challenge to academic freedom as the Tennessee law was 
inconceivable. No wonder that Britain's "progressive minds," as 
one clergyman confidently assured the secular press, considered 
the law to be "ludicrous and preposterous."^" 

Nowhere was such British progressiveness more readily 
apparent, as nearly the whole British press asserted, than in the 
overwhelming acceptance of evolution by the British public. 
According to one commentator, not even English tenant farmers 
in remote districts were as narrow-minded as their counterparts 
in Tennessee, although sixty or seventy years earlier they might 
have been. Perhaps this difference was attributable, another 
commentator speculated, to the fact that even England's most 
rural counties were more likely to have learned much earlier of 
evolution than the American South because they were less 
isolated from the culture of the big cities. Or possibly, as the 
zoologist Julian Huxley suggested, it was due to the British intel- 
lectual aristocracy (of which he was a prominent member), from 
whom progressive opinion quickly filtered down to the uncul- 
tivated masses, whose own views on intellectual matters counted 
for far less in Britain than did those of their counterparts in the 
more democratic America, where no such aristocracy even 

For whatever reasons, it was agreed that the British public 
was pro-evolutionist; but it was likewise claimed that it had 
reconciled evolution with religion, making a Scopes trial conflict 

in Tennessee," 744. 

20. Nature, 11 July 1925, 83-84; Saturday/ Review, 25 July 1925, 87; Mail, 11 July 
1925, 7; 18 July 1925, 6; Discovery, August 1925, 278; "'Fundamentalism' and 
Evolution," 119. 

21. "'Fundamentalism' and Evolution," 119; Outlook, 1 August 1925, 78; Julian 
Huxley, "America Revisited. II. — Fundamentalism," Spectator, 22 November 
1924, 772. 

"The question Is 
can a minority in 
this state come In 
and compel a 
teacher to teach 
that the Bible b 
not true and maice 
the parents ct 
these children 
pay the expenses 
of the teacher to 
tell their children 
what these people 
believe is false 
and dangerous." 
- Bryan. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"[Religion] i< one 
of those particular 
things that should 
be left solely be- 
tween the individ- 
ual and his Mai(er, 
or his God, or what- 
ever talces expres- 
sion wHh him, and 
it is no one else's 

- Darrow. 

most unlikely in Britain. Journalists themselves championed the 
compatibility of evolution with religion, as did scientists writing 
for the press, one of whom confidently asserted that there was 
"every reason in the world for being both evolutionist and 
religious."^ Many Americans argued similarly, yet the British 
press claimed that such an idealistic or religious interpretation of 
evolution was more widespread among British scientists and 
teachers than those in America. According to one columnist, an 
occasional British scientist might explain the universe on mate- 
rialistic lines, but in reality, such materialism was dead in 
England. However in America, it was claimed, evolutionists 
were materialistic atheists. To substantiate this, an Edinburgh 
professor referred to some recent American books "containing 
the baldest possible statement of a purely mechanistic concep- 
tion of the universe," whereas "no man of first-class standing in 
any British university was putting forth stuff of that kind today." 
Others concurred, one of them asserting that while American 
teachers sought to undermine traditional faith, British univer- 
sity professors did not teach scientific subjects as definitely ma- 
terialistic propaganda. Some British commentators furthermore 
charged that in American universities, Freudians and behavior- 
ists were even more guilty of propagandizing than their col- 
leagues in biology. One such journalist, contending that psy- 
chology had made an "extraordinary conquest" of America, 
suggested that Bryan should have made a bogey of Freud rather 
than Darwin.^ 

This British description of an irreligious American scientific 
and academic community accorded with the contention of the 
American anti-evolutionists that the religious faith of their chil- 
dren was being undermined in the schools. As the only part of 
the anti-evolutionist argument accepted by some in the British 
press, it evoked from them, if not sympathy, at least a certain 
degree of understanding of the Fundamentalist mindset. It was 
not altogether unreasonable, they pointed out, that parents 
whose taxes paid for the schools should demand that since 
religious teaching was prohibited in them by law, so should anti- 
religious instruction.^* But to some commentators this was a 
much less preferable educational solution to the problem than 
that provided in Britain's state elementary and secondary schools 
which, they claimed, taught both evolution and religion. As one 
religious periodical explained it, British teachers could teach 
human evolution in a science class, while emphasizing during 
religious instruction that we are all children of God, thereby 
averting an American style educational crisis on the issue.^ 

22. J. Arthur Thomson, "Evolution or the Bible?" News, 14 July 1925, 6. 

23. Manchester Guardian, 16 July 1925, 10; 19 August 1925, 16; S.K. Ratdiffe, 
"America and Fundamentalism," Con temporary /?«r;ira;, September 1925, 294-95; 
Discovery, August 1925, 278. 

24. Mail, 18 July 1925, 6; "Religion and Science in Tennessee," 740-41, 743. 

25. Theology, October 1925, 183-84. 



As the British press also proudly assured its readers, Britain 
had just as successfully warded off a religious conflict over 
evolution, primarily because the churches had accommodated 
themselves to it. Proof of this was forthcoming from clergy who 
eagerly proclaimed their enlightenment to the secular press by 
ridiculing anti-evolutionism and Fundamentalists in terms as 
fierce as the journalists. That the clergy quoted by the secular 
press were representative of the mainstream viewpoints of their 
denominations was corroborated by the church press itself. 
Some religious periodicals did chide the newspapers for sensa- 
tionalizing the Scopes trial, but most unhesitatingly accepted 
their indictment of the anti-evolutionists. Furthermore, of the 
dozen mainstream church papers surveyed for this essay, eight 
directly supported some form of theistic evolution, three im- 
plied their support of it, and only one was noncommittal, pub- 
lishing both a pro- and an anti-evolutionist article. Providing 
such a hearing for both viewpoints was quite unusual, not only 
in religious periodicals, but also in the secular press, where there 
was only a single such instance of doing this.^^ Evidently a 
balanced representation of views was thought quite unneces- 
sary, because as one church paper remarked, it was difficult to 
imagine how anything else but evolution could be taught in 
England. Still another religious paper implied that the British 
churches had so familiarized even rank-and-file churchgoers 
with evolution that "in scarcely a village chapel of any Christian 
denomination in the United Kingdom would any allusion to 
Evolution send the temperature up one degree."^^ 

Mainstream religious periodicals thus agreed with the secu- 
lar press that all sectors of British public opinion had reconciled 
evolution with religion, thus preventing a British version of the 
Scopes trial. But the press, both secular and religious, empha- 
sized that such an accommodation had not always prevailed in 
England, for immediately after Charles Darwin had published 
his Origin of Species in 1859 there had been an intense conflict 
between science and religion. Yet this Victorian conflict was it- 
self a source of immense satisfaction to the press, for it had taken 
place more than sixty years earlier, whereas the United States, so 
the press asserted, was just now experiencing a similar conflict, 
demonstrating that intellectually it was more than half a century 
behind England. This assumption that the conflict between sci- 
ence and religion had long since subsided in Britain was chal- 
lenged by an educational journal that pointed out that as re- 
cently as 1907 a schoolmistress who had mentioned Darwin's 
theory to her class had been accused of infidelity at a public in- 
quiry of the local education authority. Its dismissal of the charge 
prompted a local protest meeting, which was condoned by the 
vicar, who was subsequently taken to court and forced to pay 

26. For a list of the religious periodicals surveyed, see footnote 4. 

27. United AAethodist, 6 August 1925, 383; Methodist Times, 16 July 1925, 9. 

"The parents have 
a right to say that 
no teacher paid by 
their money shall 
rob their children 
of faith in God and 
send them hack to 
their homes, slcep- 
tical, infidels, or 
agnostics, or athe- 

- Bryan. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"What is the Bible? 
... The Bible it 
made up of sixty- 
six books written 
over a period of 
about one thou- 
sand years 

Who is the chief 
mogul that can tell 
us what the Bible 

- Darrow. 

damages for having told his congregation that her teaching had 
injured the children.^* The journal speculated that such a situ- 
ation could recur, but the vast majority of commentators, none 
of whom mentioned the 1907 case or anything sinular, thought 
otherwise. Convinced that Britain had indeed been emancipated 
from the controversy long ago, most expressed astonishment 
that the United States, so progressive economically, was so far 
behind England intellectually. However, one rather smug cler- 
gyman who had visited the States twenty-five years earlier 
remarked that he was not altogether surprised at the backward- 
ness America was currently exhibiting, for during that visit he 
had found it "pitifully manifest" that Americans were already 
half a century behind the times; but "one did hope," he piously 
added, that "the intervening years would have opened their 

Since the conflict of the 1860s allegedly demonstrated Eng- 
land's long-term intellectual superiority over America, and also 
supposedly cast some light on the Scopes trial, the press fre- 
quently alluded to its best known dramatic incident — the con- 
frontation at the British Association meeting of 1860 between the 
young scientist Thomas H. Huxley, a defender of Darwinism, 
and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, its critic. As the press described 
it, their encounter was a "battle royal" in which the Bishop, rep- 
resenting the church "in its most militant mood," ridiculed 
Darwinism out of "blind religious prejudice." Happily, how- 
ever, he was triumphantly defeated by Huxley, who in the 
ensuing stormy years succeeded through his fearless champion- 
ship of evolution in securing a victory for the freedom of scien- 
tific inquiry.^" 

This story the press so dramatically retold was long accepted 
as the valid account of the Victorian reception of Darwinism. But 
revisionist historians have recently contended that Wilberforce, 
far from responding out of religious prejudice, presented a 
scientific assessment of Darwinism that included some criti- 
cisms that have since proven correct.^* Revisionists further 
maintain that the notion of a clear-cut, intense conflict in the 
nineteenth century between science and religion (both in Britain 
and America) is too simplistic, given, for example, the criticisms 
and uncertainties regarding Darwinism amongst scientists, the 
quite rapid accommodation to the theory of evolution by some 
clergy, and the sense of conciliation on both sides. To these 
revisionists, the image of sharp conflict is a legend devised by the 
late Victorians.^^ The British press of 1925 was therefore unwit- 

28. Schoolmaster, 3 July 1925, 18. 

29. Nature, 11 July 1925, 78. 

30. John O'London's, 1 August 1925, 570; Nature, 11 July 1925, 84. 

31. J.R. Lucas, "Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter," Historical 
Journal 22 (1979): 319-20. 

32. For an historiographical overview, see James C. Livingston, "Darwin, 
Darwinism, and Theology: Recent Studies," Religious Studies Review 8 (April 



tingly propagating a somewhat mythical Victorian account, and 
even hopelessly distorting it still further by sometimes equating 
the British events of the 1860s with the Scopes trial. In its up- 
dated, anachronistic version of the story, the British Association 
meeting of 1860 was "Our own Monkey ville," with Huxley as 
Scopes and Wilberforce as Bryan. The Wilberforce of 1860 stood 
where "these Fundamentalists of America with their pamphlets 
'God or Gorilla' stand to-day," while in the years following the 
encounter with Huxley, "many an English 'Fundamentalist'" 
was only doing (albeit less spectacularly) what the Tennesseans 
were doing now. But ultimately, by this analogy, Huxley slew 
the British forefathers of the current American Fundamentalists, 
thus settling the British conflict between science and religion for 
all time.^^ 

Although the press derived considerable satisfaction from 
England's supposed resolution of the conflict so long ago, a few 
commentators questioned whether even during the 1920s evolu- 
tion really was so universally accepted in England. One colum- 
nist, pointing to the pro-evolutionist bias of Fleet Street, specu- 
lated that there were many more in England who would vote for 
Moses over Darwin than could ever be gathered from reading 
the press commentary on the Scopes trial. A few others con- 
curred, including a pro-evolutionist Anglican clergyman who 
contended not only that large numbers of church members of all 
denominations still believed in creationism, but that whenever 
Christians did proclaim evolutionism, an outcry ensued from 
those who protested against such outspokenness because it 
would be unsettling to Sunday School children, who were still 
being taught that all living creatures were created in six days. 
Still another religious commentator even speculated that a large 
proportion of rank-and-file church members could "be swayed 
towards the Fundamentalist position" if a "popular appeal" 
were made with "passionate conviction."^ 

Perhaps some insights into the degree to which the British 
public accepted evolution can be gained from a religious poll of 
1926, rather unscientifically conducted by the Nation, a liberal 
political weekly, and the News. Both asked their readers to fill 
out a questionnaire that included the question, "Do you accept 
the first chapter of Genesis as historical?" Of the almost nineteen 
hundred who replied to the Nation, thirty-six percent of whom 
claimed to be active church members, only six percent answered 
the question affirmatively. Of the fourteen thousand in the News 
poll, sixty-three percent of whom were active church members, 
thirty-eight percent replied yes. It is likely that the middlebrow 

1982): 112-15. 

33. John O'London's, 1 August 1925, 570; Telegraph, 23 July 1925, 10; "'Fundamen- 
talism' and Evolution," 118; News, 14 July 1925, 6. 

34. Observer, 19 July 1925, 11; Guardian, 24 July 1925, 643; Expository Times, 
October 1925, 5. 

"When h comes to 
Bible experts, ev- 
ery member of the 
jury is as good an 
expert on the Bible 
as any man that 
they could bring, 
or that we could 
bring. The one 
beauty about the 
Word of God is, it 
does not take an 
expert to under- 
stand K." 

- Bryan. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"What does the 
law My? ... It 
makes the Bible 
the yard stick to 
measure every 
man's Intellect, to 
measure every 
man's Intelligence 
and to measure 
every man's learn- 

- Darrow. 

Nation contained a much higher proportion of highly educated 
readers than the mass circulation News, while the readership of 
the latter included a large number of nniddle-class, churchgoing 
Nonconformists, as reflected in its poll respondents, whose high 
percentage of church membership was double the national 
average.^ There is no way of knowing how the respondents 
interpreted the poll's question about Genesis, which did not spe- 
cifically mention evolution; but perhaps their responses do 
suggest that many of the educated elite accepted evolution, as 
Fleet Street assumed, while a significant minority of the church- 
going masses did not. Or as more narrowly interpreted by an 
Anglican weekly, among the readers of the News, 'Tundamen- 
talism has its supporters."^^ 

Such British anti-evolutionists were ignored during the Scopes 
trial by both the secular and mainstream religious press, save in 
the News, which did briefly mention two conservative evangeli- 
cal Protestant groups who had not accommodated to evolu- 
tion.^'' But even in the Victorian era a number of British evangeli- 
cals had made such an accommodation, as did evangelicals in 
the 1920s.^ Yet there still were also anti-evolutionists among the 
most conservative evangelicals of all denominations who were 
consequently quite sympathetic to the American anti -evolution- 
ist crusade. Their press clearly reflected this, for of the six 
evangelical periodicals surveyed for this paper, only the leading 
Anglican evangelical weekly condemned the Tennessee law and 
refrained from championing the American Fundamentalists' 

The other five, believing in varying degrees that "the Bible 
should be preferred to Darwinism,"*" could hardly have differed 
more sharply from the rest of the press in their interpretation of 
the Scopes trial . It is true that they deplored its circus atmosphere 
and the all-pervasiveness of American publicity methods, and 
they even characterized the American Fundamentalists as a 
"simple people" who employed silly methods to advance their 
cause. Yet they vigorously denied that the Fundamentalists 
were ignorant, bigoted fanatics. Instead they praised their spiri- 
tual earnestness as being far superior to the easy-going religious 
indifference of the British. To them, Bryan was a "devoted 
Champion of the Faith." They commended the judge (whose in- 

35. Nation, 16 October 1926, 75. 

36. Church Times, 17 September 1926, 301. 

37. News, 11 July 1925, 7. The groups mentioned were the Bible League and the 
speakers at the annual Bible conference at Keswick. 

38. David N. Livingstone, Darwin's Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between 
Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. 
Eerdmans, 1987), 96-99, 135-45; David W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modem 
Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 207. 

39. The Anglican weekly was the Record. For a list of the evangeliad papers 
consulted, see footnote 4, item 5. 

40. Christian, 2 July 1925, 3. 



troduction of things spiritual had been so ridiculed by the rest of 
the press) for instilling a "more worthy spirit" in the proceed- 
ings, not only by proclainrdng that God would guide him, but by 
"very beautifully and simply" asking the court to begin each day 
with prayer. As they perceived it, the Tennessee law was a good 
and noble act that did not suppress liberty of thought. Instead it 
protected school children from the very real dangers of an 
evolutionary teaching that, because it induced moral degener- 
acy, was also a major cause of the recent "kidnappings, murders, 
and other horrors" in America.*^ 

Yet even to these conservative evangelical periodicals, evolu- 
tion was not nearly so important an issue as it was for the 
American Fundamentalists, nor did they and their readers ever 
engage in an American-style militant activism against teaching 
evolution in the schools. Certainly they were deeply concerned 
at the "drift towards total secularization" in Britain's state schools, 
and criticized the quality of their religious instruction, which 
one of their periodicals complained was often perfunctorily 
given by non-Christian teachers. But on the issue of evolution 
itself their nonmilitancy was probably best expressed when this 
same periodical emphasized the overwhelming odds against a 
movement in Georgia that hoped to ban evolution from all the 
schools of the world: a whole new generation of teachers would 
have to be trained; all modern educational literature would have 
to be rewritten; and the British public would need to be educated 
anew, since it thought the evolution issue had been settled long 
ago. It therefore advised not militant public action, but cool judg- 
ment, patient endeavor, and the teaching of the Gospel.*^ The 
majority of British conservative evangelicals were similarly 
moderate, although during the 1920s a few of the most extremely 
conservative ones referred to themselves as Fundamentalists, 
while in 1927 their most fiercely anti-evolutionist periodical 
even renamed itself the Fundamentalist.*^ 

But as has been recently pointed out, within British evangeli- 
calism as a whole, these extremists were a very small, underfi- 
nanced, weakly organized group that was held in check by the 
more numerous moderate conservatives, who eschewed any 
American-style militancy. Scholars of both American and British 
evangelicalism have convincingly argued that such nonmili- 
tancy was rooted in the relatively greater intellectual tolerance of 
religious differences by the British Protestant churches than by 
the American ones. It was due as well to the prominence among 
British (but not American) evangelicals of Anglicans, who as 

41. Christian, 2 July 1925, 3; 16 July 1925, 3; English Churchman, 16 July 1925, 346; 
30 July 1925, 375-76; Journal of the Wesley Bible Union, August 1925, 470, 472. 

42. Christian, 24 September 1924, 26; 11 February 1926, 4; 10 March 1927, 3; 13 
September 1928, 4; 11 April 1929, 24. See also the comment in Bebbington, 
Evangelicalism in Modem Britain, 207. 

43. TThis was the Journal of the Wesley Bible Union. 

"The legislature 

Eald evolution a 
igher honor than 
it deserves. Evolu- 
tion is not a theory, 
but a hypothesis." 
- Bryan. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"Ignorance and fa- 
naticism is ever 
busy and needs 
feeding. Always it 
is feedina and 
gloating Tor more. 
. . . After awfiile, 
your Honor, it is 
tiie setting of man 
against man and 
creed against 
creed until with 
flying banners and 
beating drums we 
are marching 
backward to the 
glorious ages of 
the sixteenth cen- 
tury, when bigots 
lighted fagots to 
bum the men who 
dared to bring any 
intelligence and 
enlightenment and 
culture to the hu- 
man mind." 

- Darrow. 

members of the British church establishment, with its latitudi- 
narian stance, likewise encouraged tolerance for the theological 
opinions of others. Traditionalism, a much more powerful force 
in Britain than America, was itself a moderating influence on 
British evangelicals. Moreover, the likelihood of a public furor 
over new, controversial theological issues was diminished by 
the greater familiarity with such matters of British church 
members, due in part to the centralization of British intellectual 
life and its communication network throughout England, which 
prevented the type of cultural lag between different areas of the 
country that in America was such an important source of the 
alarm over evolution.** Had the British press not been so dismis- 
sive of the possibility of anti-evolutionism in England, it might 
well have buttressed its argument that a Scopes trial could not 
occur in Britain by f>ointing out that among British anti-evolu- 
tionists, most opposed militancy, while those who favored it to 
a degree were a tiny, uninfluential minority. 

In conclusion, the British press reported the Scopes trial as an 
engaging human interest story. It was less interested in seriously 
informing readers about evolution than it was in dramatically 
simplifying it in terms presumably most readily understandable 
to them — apes, Darwin, Wilberforce, Huxley, and science versus 
religion. It thus perpetuated these familiar Victorian images of 
evolution, but through the distorting lens of the Scopes trial. By 
combining this with a championship of the pro-evolutionists, a 
ridicule of the American anti-evolutionists, and a disregard for 
their counterparts in Britain, the press conveyed a decidedly 
pro-evolutionist message to its readers. 

But the British commentators on the trial were primarily 
interested in using it to demonstrate the intellectual superiority 
of the British over the Americans, whose cultural achievements 
and values they thereupon disparaged. According to the histo- 
rian of the overall British evaluation of America during the 
1920s, such anti- Americanism was on the rise by mid-decade; 
but even so, taken as a whole the British critique of the American 
character during the twenties was leavened with praise so that 
it was on balance (he concludes) a "not altogether unfriendly 
appraisal."*^ Nearly devoid of such commendation, the British 
commentary on the Scopes trial was thus more unfavorable to 
America than the overall British assessment of it at the time. This 
was perhaps attributable to the cultivated elite's strong aversion 
to the trial's sales psychology, use of the media, manipulation of 
public opinion and standardization of thought — all elements of 

44. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modem Britain, 220-28; George Marsden, 
"Fundamentalism as an American Phenomenon, A Comparison with English 
Evangelicalism," Church History 46 Qune 1977): 216-24; Mark A. Noll, Between 
Faith and Criticism: Evangelicals, Scholarship and the Bible in America (San Fran- 
cisco: Harper and Row, 1986), 63-64, 86-87. 

45. Knoles, Jazz Age Revisited, 13, 21, 29, 57. 



the commercialized mass culture which was most rapidly ad- 
vancing in America, but p)ermeating England as well. In the 
elite's view, this commercial culture undermined their cultural 
supremacy and debased cultural standards, not only through an 
egalitarian assumption that instead of deference to elite opinion 
everyone's cultural taste should be weighed equally, but also by 
a manipulative media appeal to the emotions of the masses who, 
like animals, acted all alike with a "herd instinct," rather than 
with individuality. "Democratic man is a species of ape," as one 
critic put it.*^ 

In this cultural context, apes as ancestors of humans were 
much less worrisome to British commentators than those in the 
"Monkey ville" crowd, which, they believed, consisted not just 
of Daytonians, or even Americans, but of the British masses, for 
whom all aspects of commercial culture were vastly appealing, 
none more so than its American components such as the Holly- 
wood movies to which they eagerly flocked. In belittling Ameri- 
can culture and values, some who commented on the Scopes trial 
might have hop>ed to counter this extraordinary appeal of America 
by suggesting that it was not so alluring after all. But their 
disparaging trial commentary might likewise have stemmed 
from apprehensions that this tide of commercial culture was 
eroding some of the very qualities that they upheld as distinc- 
tively and superiorly British. Perhaps Julian Huxley, even when 
arguing that the British masses had yielded to the evolutionism 
of the intellectual aristocracy, suspected that due to the advance 
of convnercialized culture, the masses were not really so cultur- 
ally deferential anymore, just as others who unfavorably con- 
trasted Americans with the individualistic, phlegmatic, less ma- 
terialistic traits of the supp)Osedly authentic Britisher recognized 
that these too were being weakened by the same cultural trends. 
Consequently their assertion that "Such things can only happen 
in America," though aptly expressing their confidence that a 
British conflict of science versus religion was impossible, masked 
their fearful realization that in the broader context of the trial's 
reflection of mass commercial culture and its world-wide 
Americanization, such things were indeed unfortunately hap- 
pening in Britain as well. That the British commentary on the 
trial should have focused primarily on the character and influ- 
ence of American popular culture is attributable to such fears.* 

"The Bible is the 
Word of God; the 
Bible is the only 
expression of 
man's hope of sal- 
vation The 

Bible is not going 
to be driven out of 
this court by ex* 

Eerts who come 
undreds of miles 
to testify that they 
can reconcile evo- 
lution, with its an- 
cestor in the 
jungle, with man 
made by God in 
His image, and put 
here for purposes 
as a part of the 
divine plan." 

- Bryan. 

46. This interpretation of the British cultivated elite's atitude towards commer- 
cialized mass culture is based on D. L. Le Mahieu, A Culture for Democracy: Mass 
Communication and the Cultivated Mind in Britain Between the Wars (Oxford: Qar- 
endon Press, 1988), 103-21. 

* For his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper, I should like to thank 
Mark NoU. 



World War II Begins, and Broadcast News 
Discovers Its Distinctive Format 

Donald G. Godfrey 

Donald G. Godfrey 
(Ph.D., University 
of Washington) is 
associate profes- 
sor at the Walter 
Cronl(ite School of 
Journalism and 
tion, Arizona State 

WILLIAM S. PALEY SAID THAT "radio news grew up 
with World War 11."^ During the war, radio newsnnen filled the 
airwaves with the tragedy of conflict. Edward R. Murrow vicari- 
ously brought the war from London into American homes.^ 
Some, like Elmer Davis, carried messages of isolationism.^ H.V. 
Kaltenbom was even accused of being a fascist.* All of them — 
Murrow, Robert Trout, Douglas Edwards, William L. Shirer, 
Chet Huntley, and a new breed of reporters — portrayed the war 
as they saw it. According to Paul White, these people did not 
really set out to become "news broadcasters."^ At first some of 
them were in the field organizing events for broadcast. As radio 
news matured, however, their names became household words. 
Little has been written about the history of radio news, 
perhaps because it is so difficult to deal with historical materials 
when the primary record is within a broadcast format.^ Most of 

1. William S. Paley, Foreword to History in Sound, by Milo Ryan (Seattle: 
University of Washington Press, 1963), v. 

2. Donald G. Godfre), The Critical Analysis of Spoken Word Broadcasts," 
Journal of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections 14 (1982): 19-32. 

3. Alfred Haworth Jones, "The Making of an Interventionist on the Air: Elmer 
Davis and CBS News, 1939-1941," Pacific Historical Review 42 (February 1973): 

4. "Kaltenbom Edits the News," 27 October 1939, CBS-KIRO Milo Ryan 
Phonoarchive, reel 684, National Archives (hereafter dted as Phonoarchive). To 
the casual listener this broadcast seems a libel on democracy. See David Gillis 
Qark, "The Dean of Commentators: A Biography of H. V. Kaltenbom" (Ph.D. 
diss.. University of Wisconsin, 1965), 475. 

5. Paul White, News on the Air (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947), 43. 

6. Milo Ryan, "Here Are the Materials — Where Are the Scholars?" Journal of the 
Association For Recorded Sound Collections 2 (1970): 24-32. See also Donald G. 
Godfrey, A Directory of Archives (Washington: Broadcast Education Association, 
1983), i, and Cathleen C. Flanagan, "The Use of Commercial Sound Recordings 
in Scholarly Research," Journal of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections 11 
(1979): 3-17. 

the accounts of rad io news have been biographical . Whi te, Paley, 
and Shirer have provided their personal accounts as radio news 
pioneers/ Irving E. Fang has published biographical sketches 
describing the early radio personalities.* Few works have dis- 
cussed the influence of World War II on the practice of radio 
news. Pat Cranston has discussed the history and development 
of the American Armed Forces Network News.' Robert R. Smith 
has traced the origins of radio network commentary to World 
War II radio news.^° In describing the press-radio war and the 
resulting restrictions placed upon radio news during the 1930s, 
Giraud Chester has noted, almost in passing, that it was "follow- 
ing the European crisis . . . [that] both CBS and NBC organized 
their own newsgathering services."" Still other researchers have 
traced the development of news, but few have analyzed the 
specific historical foundations of broadcast news. 

This article discusses what William Paley said was radio's 
first newscast, the CBS World News Roundup on 13 March 
1938.^^ This broadcast established a precedent for broadcast 
news, a "roundup" style that is still evident today. A look at that 
first broadcast clearly illustrates the impact CBS Radio News 
had in establishing a format that is still widely used in both radio 
and television news. 

Radio had a dramatic effect on the lives of those living 
through the Great Depression. Historians examining this pe- 
riod, however, most often equate it with the variety and enter- 
tainment program of radio's "golden age." As George Douglas 
has noted: 

The depression was the making of radio in more ways 
than one. Smaller incomes, recession, deflation, meant 
that more Americans had to watch their pocket books 
and spend more evenings at home before the fireplace. 
Now they would sit before the radio.^^ 
But the depression also helped set the stage for another develop- 
ment in broadcast history. In that politically charged climate, the 
low cost of receivers made radio a potentially powerful source of 
political information as well as entertainment. 

"According to a 
Fortune survey 
made in 1939, 70 
percent of Ameri- 
cans relied on the 
radio as their prime 
source of news." 
- Daniel Czitrom, 
Media and the 
American Mind. 

7. Paul W. White, News on the Air (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947); William S. 
Paley, i4s /( Happened (New York: Doubleday, 1979); William W. Shirer, Tuxn- 
tieth Century Journey: The Nightmare Years, 1930-1940 (Boston: Little, Brown, 

8. Irving E. Fang, Those Radio Commentators (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 

9. Pat Cranston, "Some Historical Newscasts of the American Forces Network," 
Journalism Quarterly 41 (Summer 1964): 395-98. 

10. Robert R. Smith, "Origins of Radio Network News Commentary," Journal of 
Broadcasting 9 (Spring 1%5): 113-22. 

11. Girauld Chester, "The Press Radio War: 1933-35," Public Opinion Quarterly 
13 (Summer 1949): 263. 

12. In Ryan, History in Sound, v. Also see As It Happened, 133. 

13. George Douglas, The Early Days of Radio Broadcasting (Jefferson City, N. C: 
McFarland, 1987), 206. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"Unlike any previ- 
ous nwdlum of 
commercial radio 
formed a perpetual 

E>art of everyday 
Ife during the 

- Czhrom, 

Media and the 

Amerkan Mind. 

As the issues of the depression and European conflict un- 
folded and the industry grew, radio became the major platform 
for ideological discussion. Through the use of radio. President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt inspired confidence in a crushed banking 
system. Just minutes after Roosevelf s radio address on the 
banking crisis of 5 March 1933, he began to receive telegraphs ex- 
pressing unequivocal evidence of public response to his broad- 

Reacting to Roosevelt's fireside chats on the "New Deal," 
critics Huey P. Long and Father Charles Coughlin used radio to 
hammer home their platforms for social justice. In his home state 
of Louisiana, where he owned — and used — both the radio sta- 
tion and newspaper. Long recruited more than five million 
people for his "Share Our Wealth Society" after only four radio 
news appearances.^^ In 1932, Long had publicly supported 
Roosevelt's nomination as Democratic candidate for president. 
According to Long, it was "Roosevelt or Ruin." By 1934 his 
attitude had changed; he charged that it was "Roosevelt and 
Ruin." Long proposed redistribution of the wealth — taking from . 
the rich and giving to the poor — as a cure for the depression. 

Father Coughlin was not well known until his radio broad- 
casts began. After only a few months of periodic broadcasting, 
he had drawn enough listeners to secure a membership of 
millions for the Radio League of the Little Rower.^^ As the war 
approached. Father Coughlin criticized Roosevelt's administra- 
tion for getting America into "the present mess of foreign entan- 
glements."^^ Roosevelt countered, of course, preaching for his 
"arsenal of democracy."^® These ideological debates were all 
broadcast on this powerful new information medium of radio. 
A host of noted politicians and commentators debated the 
issues of the depression and scared the audience with sounds of 
the approaching war. Alexander Kendrick later described the 
impact of radio on the American audience: 

Although it [radio] does not instigate the tensions, 
radio elongates the shadow of fear and frustration [cre- 
ated by the] mechanized columns of Hitler. Radio 
exposes nearly everybody in a country to a rapid, 
bewildering succession of emotional experiences.^' 
Just two years after the first CBS World News Roundup, the 
phrase "This Is London" echoed in the ears of listeners through- 

14. Hadley Cantril and Gordon W. AUport, The Psychology of Radio fl^ew York: 
Peter Smith, 1941), 32. See also Phonoarchive, tape 4116. 

15. Ernest G. Borman, 'This Is Huey P. Long Talking," Journal of Broadcasting 2 
(Spring 1958): 111-12. See also Cantril, 7-9, and Phonoarchive, tape 4279. 

16. Cantril, 18. 

17. Phonoarchive, tape 4062. 

18. Franklin Roosevelt, "Arsenal of Democracy," radio address, 29 December 
1940. Also see Roosevelt, 3 January 1938, Phonoarchive, tape 4279. 

19. Alexander Kendrick, Prime Time: The Life ofEdioard R. Murrow (Boston: Little, 
Brown, 1%9), 234. 



out America .^°Wri ring about the influence of radio on informed 
public opinion in the 1930s, Fortune magazine reported that "the 
nation's favorite recreation was listening to radio . . . [and] news- 
casts ranked third among favorite radio programs."^^ A 1938 
essay on Murrow in Scribner's underscored the importance of 
radio as an information source, noting three advantages that 
Murrow (and radio) had over the "greatest American newspa- 

First, he beats the newspapers by hours. Second, he 

reaches nrullions who otherwise have to depend on 

provincial newspapers for their foreign news. And 

third, he writes his own headlines.^ 

Few Americans doubted the impact of radio during the thirties. 

The Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre of the Air broadcast of 

"War of the Worlds" on 30 October 1939 dramatically illustrated 

the effect of the news-style radio format. Several factors worked 

together to generate that program's impact. People were used to 

radio bulletins, and Welles's bulletins sounded real. They were 

received by an audience already emotionally charged by the 

ideological challenges raised by radio commentators who had 

discussed the depression and the approaching war. As Paul 

White noted, it was because of these factors that the audience 

"believed the Welles production even though it was specifically 

stated that the whole thing was fiction."^^ 

During the 1930s, particularly as the war approached, radio 
offered important information and involved listeners emotion- 
ally in the eventsof their time. In many respects, radio was unlike 
all other media. Dixon Wector, quoting Plato, argued that the 
size of the groups in which men can be governed depends upon 
the range of the human voice.^* For Welles and others, radio 
certainly increased that range and its influence. It was as an 
information medium, bringing home the issues and challenges 
of a rapidly changing society, that radio laid the foundation for 
the broadcast news format we know today. 

During the thirties information, news, feature, and commen- 
tary programs grew in popularity. The press-radio war restric- 
tions limited news to bulletins and forced the radio program- 
ming of the early thirties to emphasize coverage of special 
events. News broadcasts were limited to bulletins aired in the 
morning and evening, and to events such as the "Vatican Choir 
at Easter time, a speech by De Valera or folk music from Scandi- 
navia," and to political speeches and sporting events.^ AsShirer 

20. Robert Trout, "CBS Twelve Crowded Months," 29 December 1940, 
Phonoarchive, tapes 3701-4. 

21. "Newspaper versus News Broadcasts," Fortune 17 (April 1938): 104-9. 

22. Robert J. Landry, "Edward R. Murrow," Scribner's 1 04 (December 1 938): 7-1 1 . 

23. White, 47. 

24. Dixon Wector, "Hearing Is Believing," Atlantic Monthly 175 (June 1945): 54. 

25. Edward R. Murrow, "We Take You Back," CBS Radio News documentary, 
13 March 1958, Phonoarchive, tape 4065. 

"In those days, be- 
fore and during 
most of the war, 
we were not per- 
niitted to use re- 
cordings. Every- 
thing was live and 
nwved directly 
from the reporter's 
microphone into 
your home." 
- Edward Murrow, 
from "We Take 
You Back," 
13 March 1958. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"[Murrow] has 
more influence 
upon Anierica's 
reaction to foreign 
news than a ship 
full of newspaper- 

- "Edward R. 


December 1938. 

put it, he and Murrow were busy in Europe "putting kid choirs 
on the air for . . . Columbia's American School of the Air."^^ But 
as coverage of public events and the ideological debates in- 
creased, so did the number of commentators and the radio sup- 
port staff. During the 1930s the number of commentators grew 
from six to twenty .^^ Both CBS and NBC distributed guidelines 
for these growing staffs: commentators were to "elucidate and 
illuminate the news of common knowledge and to point out the 
facts on both sides."^* 

The press-radio war forced the radio networks to nurture in- 
house newsgathering organizations. According to White, the 
first CBS news organization was founded in 1933 with General 
Mills as sponsor. The Columbia News Service was tied in with 
the "Dow Jones ticker service and a British news agency in 
addition to its own small bureaus in New York, Los Angeles, 
Washington, and Chicago."^' Paley said that the aim of CBS was 
"no less than to build our own international news-gathering 
organization."^" With the press-radio war and establishment of 
the Press Radio Bureau, however, CBS gave up its original 
service.^^ The bureau agreed to supply two five-minute news 
"summaries" per day, but they were not broadcast until nine- 
thirty in the morning news, or until after nine in the evening; 
news bulletins were limited to thirty words.^^ By late December 
1938, however, the Press-Radio Bureau ceased to serve the 
networks.^ But CBS and NBC had already established a founda- 
tion for news programming in their commentary and feature 
program staffs. As World War II unfolded, the purpose of these 
fledgling organizations was transformed from commentary and 
public affairs to news; they were to provide the first "eyewit- 
ness" news roundup. 

The program that established today's news format emerged 
13 March 1938, just three months after the Press-Radio Bureau 
had ceased its service. This was the first CBS World News 
Roundup. In his memoirs Paley called it the "first round robin of 
European news and commentary on the Nazi invasion of Aus- 
tria."^ Robert Trout, who anchored the roundup, described it as 
"a special broadcast which will include pickups direct from 
London, Paris, and such other European capitals as at this late 
hour abroad have communications channels available."^^ 

26. Shirer, 288. 

27. Smith, 114. 

28. Paul W. White, "Covering a War for Radio," Annals of the American Academy 
of Political and Social Science 213 (January 1941): 83. See also News on the Air, 199. 

29. White, News on the Air, 39. 

30. Paley, in Ryan History in Sound, vi. 

31. White, News on the Air, 41. 

32. Chester, 256-57. 

33. "Press Radio off the Air," New York Times, 28 December 1938, 23. 

34. Paley, As It Happened, 133. See also Ryan, History in Sound, v. 

35. Robert Trout, "We Take You Back," CBS Radio News program, 13 March 
1958, Phonoarchive, tape 4065. 



The major players in this event were White, Shirer, and 
Murrow. It was White, stationed in New York as the director of 
public affairs for Columbia, who initiated this first World News 
Roundup. He notified Shirer, who was given less than a day to 
pull together his part of the newscast from Europe. Shirer was 
Columbia's central European director, stationed in Vienna. An 
anxious participant in this "live" news broadcast, Shirer had 
been frustrated for some time at being unable to interest "anyone 
at CBS in letting [him] report first hand on the fate of Austria."^^ 
Murrow, Columbia's European director, stationed in London, 
was head of CBS's "foreign staff, a staff of one [Murrow]."^' 
Robert Trout, known for his "smooth voice" and later called 
"The Voice of CBS News," anchored the roundup from New 

The approaching world war and the German annexation of 
Austria provided the occasion for this first World News Roundup. 
As the German soldiers absorbed country after country, millions 
of people were turning to radio as their means of information, 
anxious to learn of "every step in the unfolding tragedy of the 
European war."^' By March 1938, Austria had fallen to the 
German invaders, and the world was wondering about the fate 
of France and Great Britain. Hitler was massing a powerful 
weapon. The conflict, heretofore referred to as the "European 
Phony War," was becoming very real.*" Radio was becoming the 
source for the most immediate information concerning this 
growing threat. 

Murrow was in Warsaw, Poland, on 1 2 March 1938, arranging 
for a special musical program for CBS. Shirer, whom Murrow 
had hired, was in London manning the bureau in Murrow's 
absence. It was Shirer, who received the call to action from 
White, who organized the round-up from Europe.*' Lacking a 
support staff, Shirer organized a series of stringers, calling upon 
reporters from already established print bureaus and a member 
of the British Parliament. These people all functioned as report- 
ers to "round up" the European news and present differing 
perspectives on the rapidly unfolding events. Shirer's stringers 
included Edgar Mowrer of the Chicago Daily News, Ellen C. 
Wilkinson, a member of the British Parliament, and Pierre Hy ss 
of the International News Service, a prestigious if somewhat 
reluctant group of first-time radio reporters.*^ Mowrer was away 
from Paris on vacation, and "it took some urging [by Shirer] to 

36. Shirer, 294. 

37. Paley, As It Happened, 131. 

38. William S. Shirer, Berlin Diary (New York: Alfred E. Knopf, 1 941 ), 104; Trout, 
Phonoarchive, tape 4065. 

39. Henry Steele Commager, The Pocket History of the Second World War (New 
York: Pocket, 1945), 23. 

40. Commager, 40-43. 

41. White, News on the Air, 46. 

42. Paley, in Ryan, History in Sound, vi. See also Shirer and White texts. 

• • • • • 

"Until eight o'clocl( 
that Sunday night, 
no one on tnis earth 
had ever heard a 
world news 

- Robert Trout, 

from "We Take 

You Back," 

13 March 1958. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"News Director 
Paul White had had 
curtains hung on 
the waiis of one of 
the offices here to 
deaden the sound, 
rigging up an int- 
provised studio 
for the crisis." 
- Trout, from "We 
Taice You Bacic," 
13 March 1958. 

persuade him to return to broadcast."*^ Wilkinson hesitated 
because she did not want her participation in the roundup to hint 
at official British involvement in the European war. Huss was 
under the close eye of the Nazis in Berlin; and Murrow, who 
wanted to broadcast, was looking for an open shortwave trans- 
mitter between Warsaw and Vienna. 

Organizing the broadcast was also more than a matter of 
arranging prominent stringers. The broadcast was a totally live 
program, and it was easier to get the stringers than it was to get 
the technical shortwave radio stations lined up throughout Eu- 
rope for a live broadcast scheduled from New York. Murrow's 
fledgling one-person broadcast bureau made full use of an al- 
ready established personal network of influential colleagues: 
"Murrow and [Shirer] had newspaper friends in every capital in 
Eurojje."*^ But, for each European city, Shirer needed a short- 
wave radio transmitter powerful enough to carry the signal from 
Europe to New York, and the German troops had closed the 
shortwave transmitter in Poland. So Murrow left Warsaw and 
headed for Vienna, where he hoped a shortwave broadcasting 
station would be open to permit his participation in this first 
World News Roundup. It was feared that he would not be able 
to participate, and Trout had even written "a little apology 
explaining that the Vienna transmitter was closed, and he had 
not prepared a Vienna introduction in advance."*^ 

It would be ideal at this point to quote the original CBS 
broadcast at length, as listeners heard it. Unfortunately, the 
program exists only in fragments. CBS had banned broadcast 
recordings and insisted that everything they did must be live. 
Nonetheless, it is pjossible even from these fragments to feel the 
exigence of the world p)ower struggle and the importance of that 
precedent-setting broadcast. 

The historic broadcast began at 8:00 p.m., eastern standard 
time. Trout was the anchor who introduced the program, the 
subject material, and the participants. Shirer led with his report 
from London, followed by Wilkinson with comments on Brit- 
ain's annoyance with Hitler. "No one [in Britain] wants to go to 
war," she noted.*^ Mowrer, who had been expelled from Ger- 
many by Hitler, described Hitler's "brutal naked force."*' And 
Huss delivered a somewhat guarded report from Berlin: "All 
classes in Germany believed that Austria had come back to the 
German fold of its own will."**Murrow's report was simple and 

This is Edward Murrow speaking from Vienna, it is 

43. Shirer, Twentieth Century, 305. 

44. Shirer, Berlin Diary, \Qf7. 

45. Trout, Phonoarchive, tape 4065. 

46. Shirer, Twentieth Century, 3(J7. 

47. Shirer, Twentieth Century, 305-8. 

48. Shirer, Twentieth Century, 308. 



now nearly two-thirty in the morning and Herr Hitler 
has not yet arrived. No one seems to know just when 
he will get here, but most people expect him sometime 
after ten tomorrow morning. There's a certain air of 
expectancy about the city everyone waiting and won- 
It worked. New York received the first reports from the major 
European capitals, and, for the first time, America was intro- 
duced to a radio news roundup — live reports from a variety of 
news locations. The international news and the live "roundup" 
format were now a part of broadcasting. Shirer recounted that 
first newscast: 

One a.m. came, and through my earphone I could hear 

on our transatlantic "feedback" the smooth voice of 

Bob Trout announcing the broadcast from our New 

York Studio. Our part [from Europe] went off alright , 

I think. Edgar and Ed were especially good . . . New 

York said on the "feedback" afterward that it was a 

success. They want another one tonight.^" 

That first World News Roundup, in other words, was more than 

just another report from Europe. It was a precedent-setting radio 

program, so successful in fact, that CBS called for a second the 

following night. 

Little of the event is recorded in the popular literature, per- 
haps because of the heightened press-radio competition or per- 
haps because the event marked only a moment in a rapid 
evolutionary process. According to Newsweek, for example, the 
"Big Broadcast" of spring 1938 was radio's coverage of the 
coronation of King George and Metropolitan Opera perform- 
ances.^^ But the CBS World News Roundup left a permanent 
mark on the history and growth of broadcast journalism. The 
World News Roundup changed the information role of the 
radio. Previously radio had only commented on the news that 
print organizations gathered. Now it was gathering its own 
news and emphasizing factual, on-the-spot reporting rather 
than commentary. 

In the years that followed that first broadcast, CBS coverage 
of the European war expanded. Within less than a year, the 
world news roundup became a nightly fifteen-minute news 
program. Paley telegraphed Murrow and Shirer following the 
Czechoslovakian invasion broadcasts, complimenting them on 
the work they had accomplished: "probably the best job ever 
done in radio broadcasting."^^The CBS radio news staff grew as 

"To bring you the 
picture of Europe 
tonight, Columbia 
now presents a 
special broadcast 
with pickups direct 
from Lonoon, from 
Paris, and such 
other European 
capitals as have 
channels available. 
. . . Columbia be- 
gins its radio tour 
of Europe's capi- 
tals whn a transo- 
ceanic pickup 
from London. We 
take you now to 

- excerpt from 
Trout's Introduc- 
tion to first world 
news roundup. 

49. "In Appreciation of Edward R. Murrow," BBC Broadcast, undated. Phono- 
archive, tape 4063. See also "This Is Ed Murrow," CBS broadcast, 30 April 1965, 
Phonoarchive, tapes 3971 a,b,c. 

50. Shirer, Berlin Diary, 107. 

51. "Radio: The Big Broadcast," Newsweek 11 (9 May 1938): 24. 

52. Shirer, Twentieth Century, 370-71. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

"This particular 
type of radio re- 
porting is only 
twenty years old. 
The twenty-first 
year in hunians is 
supposed to pro- 
duce maturity and 
responsibility. The 
best in radio re- 
is yet to 

- Murrow, from 

"We Tal(e 

You Bacic," 

13 iMarch 1958. 

the war expanded and the demand for information increased. By 
the end of the war, the staff at CBS Radio had grown from a 
handful of commentators to 170 reporters and stringers who, 
while covering the globe, had filed almost thirty thousand 
reports with CBS.^' 

World War II and CBS marked the beginning of a new era for 
radio and television journalism. The foundations of radio and 
television news were laid in those first CBS roundups. Radio and 
television news networks today continue to emphasize newsgath- 
ering and on-the-spot factual reporting, within a format that still 
resembles that first used in the World News Roundup. Before 13 
March 1938, Edward R. Murrow described broadcasting as "a 
leisurely, civilized sort of business." After the first CBS World 
News Roundup, the news was "rather more interesting and 
considerably more hectic."^* 

53. Milo Ryan and I took Ryan's text. History in Sound, which lists all CBS Radio 
News Broadcasts from 1939 to 1945, and computerized the contents, so that we 
could search for various themes. Additional searches produced chronological 
listings, alphabetical listings, and subject-related themes. The program and the 
completed analyses are deposited in the Milo Ryan Phonoarchives, National 

54. Murrow, "We Take You Back," Phonoarchive, tape 4065. 

Michael Griffin 
University of Minnesota 

Relying on the standard 
texts, one would conclude 
that each medium developed 
in its own hermetically sealed 
vacuum tube, without knowl- 
edge of or interaction with 
the other. 

. . . Richard B. Jewell 

THE STUDY OF visual 
media has long occupied a 
curious (and precarious) 
place in programs of jour- 
nalism and mass commu- 
nication, usually appended 
to narrowly defined train- 
ing sequences in photo- 
journalism or publications 
graphics, sometimes ne- 
glected altogether amidst 
an overwhelming empha- 
sis on press reporting and 
editing. While everyone 
seems to recognize that 
visual media have grown 
to dominate mass media 
systems in the twentieth 
century, such recognition 
has yet to manifest itself in 
standard curricula. Much 
of this, perhaps, can be at- 
tributed to institutional in- 
ertia; academic programs 
traditionally preoccupied 
with "news editorial" se- 
quences are slow to re- 
spond to changing empha- 
ses in the mass media en- 
vironment, and tend to be 
most receptive to expan- 
sion in those areas tradi- 
tionally associated with 
print journalism — photog- 


raphy, typography, graphic 
design, desktop publishing. 

The "mass communica- 
tion" side of the hybrid, on 
the other hand, has cen- 
tered on survey-based re- 
search of media uses and 
effects, with the nature of 
media forms themselves 
largely taken for granted. 
We are left with a sys- 
tem of journalism educa- 
tion in which scholarly at- 
tention is rarely devoted to 
the visual forms of mass 
media, and media as im- 
portant as film and televi- 
son are continually under- 
emphasized. As film and 
communication studies 
have turned their attention 
to questions of television 

form and culture, journal- 
ism and mass communica- 
tion research has lagged 
behind, failing to incorpo- 
rate models for the analy- 
sis of visual media forms 
and practices. Where are 
the theories for explicating 
the role played by various 
types of news footage in 
the message structure of 
television news? Or meth- 
ods for analyzing advertis- 
ing practices, which have 
progressively de-empha- 
sized language in favor of 
the grammar of image as- 
sociation? Where is the 
systematic study of word/ 
image relationships inte- 
grated in the analysis of 
newspaper information. 

Books Reviewed in This Essay 

and James M. Linton. Sage, 1989. 169 pp. $19.95, Cloth; $9.95, 


TO CABLE. By Michele Hilmes. University of Illinois Press. 

1990. 264 pp. $24.95, Cloth. 

CRITICS. By William Boddy. University of Illinois Press, 1990. 

407 pp. $24.95, Cloth. 

tbn. By George Comstock. Sage, 1989. 384 pp. $39.95, Cloth; 

$19.95, Paper. 
TELEVISION CULTURE. By John Fiske. Routledge, Chapman 

and Hall, reprinted 1989. 400 pp. $42.50, Cloth; $13.95, Paper. 

POSTWAR AMERICA. By Ella Taytor. University of California 

Press, 1989. 196 pp. $20, Cloth. 

James Lull. Sage, 1988. 296 pp. $35, Cloth; $16.50. Paper. 

edited by Alan O'Conner. Routledge, Chapman and Hall. 1989. 

256 pp. $14.95, Paper. 


Harvard University Press, 1989. 384 pp. $29.50, Cloth. 


AJ /Summer 1990 

magazine formats, or the 
impact of synthetic im- 

Theories and methods 
for analyzing the increas- 
ingly ubiquitous juxtaposi- 
tions of electronic and 
photographic images, il- 
lustrations and words jos- 
tling across the television 
screen (or the pages of 
newspapers and maga- 
zines) are still missing, not 
only from standard curric- 
ula but also from research 
presented in mass commu- 
nication journals and at 
conferences. Attempts to 
incorporate word and im- 
age relationships in media 
analysis, and to account 
for the visual mode in 
mass communication re- 
search more generally, ne- 
cessitate reaching out to 
literatures not normally 
associated with journalism 
education or American 
mass communication re- 

In this regard, a wide- 
ranging and important lit- 
erature in film and televi- 
sion offers itself to those 
attempting concrete analy- 
ses of modern media forms 
and practices. Arising 
from fields as diverse as 
cinema studies, American 
studies, cultural studies, 
art history, literary theory, 
rhetoric, the sociology of 
popular culture, media 
studies, and the history of 
broadcasting,this literature 
incorporates methods and 
insights from film theory, 
rhetorical analysis, narra- 
tive theory, semiotics, 
theories of interpretation, 
audience research, and the 
history and sociology of .. 
media industries and cul- 
tural production. It pro- 

vides multiple, many-lay- 
ered paradigms for inves- 
tigating the industrial pro- 
duction of conventional 
forms, relationships be- 
tween media institutions 
and ideology, the proc- 
esses of media socialization 
and professionalization, 
and mass media audiences 
and interpretive patterns. 

Several recent publica- 
tions reflect these develop- 
ments and provide a trove 
of theories, ideas, and re- 
search to those concerned 
with the historical impact 
of visual communication 
in the mass media. 

Jowett and Linton's Mov- 
ies as Mass Communication 
and Hilmes's Hollywood 
and Broadcasting reject the 
arbitrary divisions between 
film and broadcasting to 
provide newly conceptual- 
ized histories of visual 
mass media institutions. 

Comstock's The Evolution 
of American Television sum- 
marizes the establishment 
of American television as a 
mass media industry, ex- 
plores the development of 
viewing patterns and use 
among television audi- 
ences, and outlines the re- 
sponses of psychologists 
and sociologists who have 
established the present tra- 
dition of mass communi- 
cation research. 

Fiske's Television Culture 
complements Comstock by 
summarizing the "other" 
tradition of television 
studies — the application of 
semiotics, narrative the- 
ory, and theories of repre- 
sentation from cultural 
studies and literary theory 
to the specific forms and 
practices of television. 
Bodd/s Fifties Television 

and Taylor's Prime Time 
Families provide historical 
examples of such studies 
of "television culture," 
each presenting a history 
and analysis of particular 
television forms, their so- 
cial, political and indus- 
trial origins, and their cul- 
tural significance. 

Lull's World Families 
Watch Television squarely 
addresses the need, sug- 
gested by Fiske, for build- 
ing a body of research on 
audience reception and in- 
terpretive communities. 
He has collected studies 
attempting to discern the 
use and significance of 
television viewing within 
the family contexts of dif- 
ferent cultures, from China 
and India to Europe and 
the U.S. 

Bord well's Making Mean- 
ing, simultaneously a his- 
tory of film criticism and a 
rhetorical analysis of film 
interpretation, offers new 
insights about the way we 
approach, make sense of, 
and talk about media in 
general. And the selection 
of Raymond William's 
writings On Television, ed- 
ited by Alan O'Connor, of- 
fers a sampler of brief, en- 
joyable essays by one of 
the fathers of British cul- 
tural studies and one of 
the first scholars to em- 
phasize the failure of 
mainstream mass commu- 
nication research to attend 
to and explain concrete 
"media forms and prac- 

In Movies as Mass 
Communication, Jowett and 
Linton try to counter the 
tendency to view the cin- 
ema as "art," as a cultural 
text to be approached with 

Book Reviews 


the tools of literary theory 
and aesthetic analysis, by 
describing the cinema his- 
torically, as a mass com- 
munication industry. By 
focusing on the economics 
and sociology of movie 
production and movie au- 
diences, they make an im- 
portant contribution to the 
study of mass communica- 
tion in general. Chafing at 
the conventional separa- 
tion of film studies from 
studies of mass communi- 
cation — ^the "tendency to 
position movies as a sepa- 
rate form of 'entertain- 
ment,' with a specialized 
audience" — they make a 
compelling case for exam- 
ining movies as "one seg- 
ment of the mass commu- 
nication infrastructure." In 
so doing, they summarize 
the many approaches to 
research encompassed by 
such an approach, from 
historical and economic 
studies of industry struc- 
ture and patterns of pro- 
duction, distribution and 
marketing, to studies of the 
movie audience, the movie- 
going experience, and the 
psychology of viewing, to 
the movies as a world- 
wide cultural influence 
shaping our "visual per- 
spective," to the extensive 
interrelationships between 
movies and other media. 

Movies as Mass Communi- 
cation is unique in the way 
it explicitly establishes the 
importance of incorporat- 
ing cinema studies within 
mass communication re- 
search. The book not only 
suggests the senseless arbi- 
trariness of excluding film 
from mass communication 
research but points to a 
more far-reaching failure 

on the part of much media 
research to attend to rela- 
tions between mass media 
production and cultural 
form. Historical research is 
of particular importance in 
this regard, since cultural 
forms demand historical 
explanation and analysis — 
and an historical awareness 
of the interrelationship be- 
tween organizations of 
production and the aes- 
thetics of cinematic form 
has been more prevalent in 
film studies than memy 
other areas of mass com- 
munication research. 

Comstock's Evolution of 
American Television repre- 
sents a somewhat parallel 
account of the development 
of television and television 
research. Comstock's work 
is undoubtedly one of the 
most comprehensive sum- 
maries available of the 
"paradigms" by which the 
American television indus- 
try has developed: the con- 
ceptions and forms of en- 
tertainment, news, and po- 
litical campaigning that 
have characterized the 
television system; social 
and economic factors that 
have shaped audience be- 
havior and the viewing 
"experience"; the array of 
research questions and in- 
vestigative approaches 
that have been applied to 
the medium by American 
mass communication 
scholars; and the demon- 
strable impact television 
has had oft public atten- 
tion, family life, percep- 
tions, and learning. While 
Comstock's work does not 
take into account discus- 
sions of televison intro- 
duced in the last fifteen 
years by critical theory. 

cultural studies, and new 
movements for the ethno- 
graphic study of audiences, 
family contexts, and inter- 
pretive communities, it 
does provide a useful and 
insightful summary and 
analysis of the evolution of 
American television as an 
industrial system, and the 
dominant psychological 
and sociological models of 
American mass communi- 
cation research that have 
emerged in response. 
Comstock concludes 
rather pessimistically, not- 
ing the immunity of the 
televison business to criti- 
cism and research on tele- 
vision effects, and observ- 
ing that "the evolution of 
American television" has 
"become a model for the 

Hilmes's Hollywood and 
Broadcasting joins Jowett 
and Linton in decrying the 
separation of film studies 
from broadcasting and 
mass communication, and 
stressing the need for a 
unified study of media 
and society. She concretely 
demonstrates her point by 
tracing the historical links 
between the broadcasting 
and Hollywood industries 
in American since the hey- 
day of radio. In an un- 
precedented historical ac- 
count, Hilmes documents 
Hollywood's early at- 
tempts to gain control of 
the budding radio net- 
works, and reveals how, 
thwarted by regulatory 
difficulties and the resis- 
tance of both broadcasters 
and film exhibitors, the 
film industry turned to 
producing radio program- 
ming in the thirties. Focus- 
ing on the Lux Radio Thea- 


AJ /Summer 1990 

ter as a case study, she re- 
veals the process of "com- 
petition and cooperation" 
between radio and the 
movies that has made Hol- 
lywood a major broadcast 
production center. Hilmes 
shows how Hollywood 
pulls together the desire of 
commercial sponsors to as- 
sociate their products with 
film stars, the desire of the 
industry for a nationally 
broadcast promotional fo- 
Tum, and the desire of the 
radio networks and stations 
for popular programming. 
Hilmes compellingly ar- 
gues that the relationship 
established between Hol- 
lywood and radio in the 
thirties set the stage for the 
evolution of Hollywood's 
relations with television, 
helping to facilitate the 
relatively rapid accommo- 
dations made between net- 
works and studios during 
the fifties and early sixties. 
Of special interest is her 
analysis of the special dis- 
course produced by the in- 
tersection of broadcasting, 
advertising, and film, a 
discourse characterized by 
a segmented, permeable 
structure marked by fre- 
quent interruptions and a 
"relatively shallow dieg- 
esis." That discourse dif- 
ferentiated broadcast pro- 
gramming from theatrical 
film while drawing upon 
many of the cinema's nar- 
rative and signifying con- 
ventions. Hilmes describes 
the carryover of this seg- 
mented, serial, disrupted 
discourse into television. 
Then, in the final chapter, 
she suggests that the 
growing conglomeration 
and concentration of the 
entertainment industry in 

the seventies and eighties 
has led to the disappear- 
ance of "Hollywood" and 
"broadcasting" altogether 
as we have known them. 

HoUyivood and Broad- 
casting is a perfect antidote 
to media research defined 
by and limited to a specific 
technology, medium, or 
industry, displaying as it 
does the advantages of a 
more integrated study of 
media systems. 

Similarly, Boddy ob- 
serves the "growing seri- 
ousness with which televi- 
sion history is viewed from 
outside the traditional 
field of broadcast studies," 
and notes the recent atten- 
tion to television from film 
studies, semiotics, literary 
theory, and American 
studies. "One weakness of 
American television histo- 
riography," he writes, "has 
been the isolation and mu- 
tual impoverishment of 
these strands." His book. 
Fifties Television, attempts 
to provide a more inte- 
grated analysis of the 
emergence of the Ameri- 
can television industry. By 
carefully examining the 
economic and regulatory 
environment of the fifties, 
a crucial period in which 
the structure and form of 
American commercial tele- 
vision became entrenched, 
Boddy links business prac- 
tices to program forms, 
thereby clarifying the so- 
cial and economic origins 
of television culture. 

By contrast, Taylor, in 
Prime-Time Families, links 
television culture to the 
changing cultural milieus 
in which it has been 
viewed, finding connec- 
tions between changing 

social relations in the 
American family and 
changing depictions of 
families in the episodic 
dramas and sit-coms of 
television. Hers is a more 
ideahst approach than that 
of Boddy or Hilmes, at- 
tempting to identify the in- 
fluence of Zeitgeist, cultural 
moods, a "structure of 
feelings," as well as demo- 
graphic changes, social 
shifts in marital relations, 
and deepening divisions 
of class, race, and gender 
in forms of popular culture. 
As a self-defined "sociolo- 
gist of culture," Taylor be- 
lieves that cultural forms 
shed light on underlying 
social perceptions and 
feelings, and that the 
study of popular culture 
makes a valuable contribu- 
tion to our knowledge of 
the media's role in social 

Surveying television's 
depiction of the American 
family in the post-war era, 
Taylor focuses particularly 
on the seventies as a time 
of social upheaval and 
changing family structure 
and marital relations. She 
sees these changes re- 
flected in the symbolic 
representations of prime- 
time television, with pro- 
grams centered on the 
domestic presentation of 
families and changing 
family life emerging in the 
early seventies, and pro- 
grams focused on the 
workplace and structured 
around the creation of sur- 
rogate family relationships 
within the workplace gain- 
ing increasing prominence 
as the decade progressed. 
"All in the Family" pro- 
vides a central focus for 

Book Reviews 


Taylor's discussion of so- 
cial conflict early in the 
decade (chapter 4). Pro- 
grams with "workplace 
families" like "The Mary 
Tyler Moore Show," 
"M.A.S.H.," "WKRP in 
Cincinnati," and "Lou 
Grant" are seen to repre- 
sent a reaction to the con- 
tinuing disruptions in the 
traditional ideal, a place to 
regain some of the solidar- 
ity, security and warmth 
that Americans feel they 
have lost (chapter 5). 

Taylor presents yet an- 
other perspective by which 
to understand the signifi- 
cance of visual media rep- 
resentations. By astutely 
recognizing the centrality 
of the family in television 
portrayals, a medium that 
so frequently portrays 
families to family viewers, 
she has identified a funda- 
mental characteristic of 
television, a characteristic 
that demands further in- 
vestigation within the con- 
texts of actual viewing. 

Lull's World Families 
Watch Television draws to- 
gether just such pioneer- 
ing work on family televi- 
sion viewing. Rejecting the 
idea that culture can be 
studied solely through the 
analysis of media texts — 
"Cultures are not found, 
they are created socially^' 
— Lull refuses to take the 
"family" for granted. He 
argues that the family is a 
problematic in the interac- 
tion between media and 
society that must be exam- 
ined closely and at length. 
Building from a growing 
body of naturalistic field 
research in the eighties 
that he himself helped to 
lead. Lull has produced 

the first collection of com- 
parative ethnographic 
studies of family television 
viewing. The book in- 
cludes work by several of 
the pioneers of naturalistic 
audience research: David 
Morley, whose long-term 
research on domestic rela- 
tions and family viewing 
in Britain has become a 
model for others to follow; 
Thomas Lindlof, whose 
book Natural Audiences 
(Ablex, 1987) was one of 
the first collections of 
qualitative research on 
media uses and effects; 
and J. S. Yadava and Usha 
V. Reddi, two of the lead- 
ers in the expanding field 
of ethnographic research 
on media adoption and 
use in India. 

World Families Watch Tele- 
vision takes seriously the 
proposal made by Sol 
Worth more than a decade 
ago that we move from the 
study of semiotics, a privi- 
leged analysis by legiti- 
mized experts of the man- 
ner in which cultural sys- 
tems generate meaning, to 
what he called "ethno- 
graphic semiotics," the 
study of the way "real" 
people in actual interpre- 
tive communities make 
sense and meaning of the 
cultural products around 
them. Bordwell's Making 
Meaning comes close, with 
its analysis of the rhetori- 
cal and interpretive strate- 
gies employed by film crit- 
ics to make sense of and 
evaluate the cinema. The 
routines and practices he 
examines clearly have rele- 
vance not just for film 
scholars but for all of us 
who watch and write 
about any visual media. 

Fiske's Television Culture 
raises all of the pertinent 
questions concerning the 
expanding role of televi- 
sion in our interpretation 
of the world around us. 
Fiske writes of the ma- 
nipulative power of the 
"realism" we ascribe to 
pictures; the ideological 
role played by narrative 
structures routinely em- 
bedded in television's "re- 
alistic" presentations; its 
interpretations of gender 
and social roles; and the 
highly codified nature of 
television news as a genre. 
He draws our attention to 
the fabricated culture of 
television — a culture we 
all too often mistake for 
our own. He makes clear 
the interrelatedness and 
"intertextuality" of all me- 
dia today, and the need to 
understand television's 
growing influence over 
cultural production of all 
kinds. He also refers to the 
type of work represented 
in World Families Watch 
Television by stressing the 
active nature of audiences 
and the need to further ex- 
amine "modes of recep- 
tion," the "making of 
meaning," and the poly- 
semy of television texts. 

This selection of works, 
all published or reprinted 
within the last yetir and a 
half, represents an expand- 
ing literature on the visual 
media that cannot be ig- 
nored by journalism schol- 
ars, that, in fact, needs to 
be more fully incorporated 
into journalism and mass 
communication programs. 
We cannot continue to let 
received and arbitrary di- 
visions of knowledge and 
study obstruct the pursuit 


AJ /Summer 1990 

of mass media studies. 
These surveys and studies, 
taken as a group, suggest a 
whole much greater than 
the sum of its parts, and 
lay the groundwork for a 
new tradition of research 
that demolishes the old 
academic boundaries di- 
viding different media, 
different technologies, and 
differing disciplinary ap- 
proaches. Journalism and 
mass communication 
scholars in America would 
do well to throw open the 
doors of heretofore insu- 
lated programs and wel- 
come such interdiscipli- 
nary study of the visual 
and electronic media, for 
the time is already past 
when journalism and mass 
media of all kinds have 
come under the influence 
of the industrial produc- 
tion of images. 

THE CRITICS, 1916-1929. 

By Barbara Buhler Lynes. 

• UMI Research Press 
•1989,376 pp. 

• $39.95, Cloth 

picts the subject matter 
precisely. But the theme is 
more pertinent: how jour- 
nalist-critics, even the 
most enlightened of the 
post- Armory Show era, 
stereotyped Georgia 
O'Keeffe, one of America's 
most innovative artists. 
Such an overplot has its 
risks, particularly in a 
scholarly work such as this. 
The author must distin- 
guish fact from opinion — 
indeed, one chapter is 

titled "Matters of Fact and 
Matters of Opinion" — and 
be able to present evidence 
as fairly as possible with 
the goal of fulfilling a the- 
sis or theme. Barbara 
Buhler Lynes not only ac- 
complishes this but also 
may alter the reader's 
opinion of O'Keeffe. 

In the opening chapters, 
Lynes documents Alfred 
Stieglitz's obsession with 
O'Keeffe as a fellow artist, 
photogenic model, extra- 
marital lover, and subse- 
quent independent wife. 
Already well-established 
when O'Keeffe came to 
live in New York at his 
bidding in 1918, Stieglitz 
became O'Keeffe' s chief 
promoter and myth- 
maker, maintaining that 
her genius stemmed from 
her sex and sexuality. 
Stieglitz, who based his as- 
sumption on Freud, per- 
petuated the myth on gela- 
tin silver prints, some de- 
picting a nude O'Keeffe in 
sharp focus (as opposed to 
the blurred nude already 
in vogue). 

Lynes, as scholar, pres- 
ents a balanced view of 
such matters. For instance, 
in treating the gender im- 
plications of Stieglitz's fa- 
mous portraits of O'Keeffe, 
the author writes: "Al- 
though there is no ques- 
tion that Stieglitz objecti- 
fied the female body in 
some of the photographs, 
in others he defined a 
strong, spirited, serious 
artist and woman." This is 
but one of dozens of inter- 
pretations throughout the 
book in which Lynes 
changes our perspective of 
O'Keeffe merely by put- 
ting historic fact and inter- 

pretation above contempo- 
rary dogma and agenda. 

From the start, Lynes 
demonstrates that what 
would be regarded now as 
sexisttreatmentof O'Keeffe 
also may have been her 
ticket into the male-ori- 
ented art world of the 
1920s. But this ploy cost 
O'Keeffe in the long run, 
casting a long shadow 
upon her status as artist 
and professional. As Lynes 
notes, O'Keeffe did not at- 
tempt to censure Stieglitz; 
she simply put forth her 
own artistic manifesto to 
counteract her husband's. 
Lynes's readers, then, get 
to experience these two 
versions (or visions) of 
O'Keeffe doing battle in 
what essentially becomes 
journalism's inability to 
depict what it hitherto had 
refused to report: in this 
case, the dynamic presence 
of "a woman artist" (a la- 
bel that eventually an- 
gered O'Keeffe, who 
wanted to be reviewed as 
artist sans "woman"). 

The result is a research 
book with a plot narrated 
via a selection of ninety 
pieces of pertinent criti- 
cism. The critics become 
characters in a morality 
play about the creative 
genius of a woman who is 
also a pawn of the times. 
Here is a representative 
excerpt by Paul Rosenfeld 
embracing tenets of the 
Stieglitz view: 'The pure, 
now flaming, now icy col- 
ors of this painter, reveal 
the woman polarizing her- 
self, accepting fully the na- 
ture long denied, spiritual- 
izing her sex The or- 
gans that differentiate the 
sex speak. Women, one 

Book Reviews 


would judge, always feel, 
when they feel strongly, 
through the womb." 

Rosenfeld's articles em- 
barrassed CKeeffe. She 
writes in a letter: 'They 
make me seem like some 
strange imearthly sort of 
creature floating in the 
air — ^breathing in the 
clouds for nourishment — 
when the truth is I like 
beef steak — and like it rare 
at that." 

CKeeffe's view of her art 
was as direct as her per- 
sonality. One of her contri- 
butions as a modernist 
was her ability to resurrect 
the cliche of the still-life 
flower. She states: "I have 
painted what each flower 
is to me and I have painted 
it big enough so that oth- 
ers would see what I see." 

The only criticism one 
may level at Lynes's book 
is the brevity of its conclu- 
sion, less than six and a 
half pages. By the end she 
has gained the reader's 
trust to such an extent that 
one would like to hear 
more of her opinions, par- 
ticularly about how the la- 
beling of CyKeeffe has con- 
tributed to current-day 
media misperceptions 
about women artists. 

The book appeals to sev- 
eral disciplines, from jour- 
nalism to feminist studies. 
The writing is clear and 
concise; the format, organ- 
ized and assessible. The 
book contains six well-re- 
searched chapters, twenty- 
three plates of Stieglitz 
photos and CKeeffe paint- 
ings, short biographies of 
critics and reprints of cited 
reviews in the appendices, 
detailed and informative 
notes, an extensive select 

bibliography, and a com- 
plete index. 

The book is being offered 
at such a reasonable price 
that teachers may also 
want to consider it as a 
recommended text. 

. . . Michael J. Bugeja 
Ohio University 


By John S. Schuchman. 

• University of Illinois Press 
•1988,200 pp. 

• $24.95, Cloth 

WHAT A SHAME for most 
Americans that they gain 
much of their knowledge 
of the deaf community and 
culture via film and televi- 
sion. Deafness in Ameri- 
can society has been sub- 
jected to particularly cruel 
stereotyping since early 
motion picture days. The 
author of this study, him- 
self a hearing child of deaf 
parents, saw deaf charac- 
ters in movies that bore 
little resemblance to the 
deaf people that he knew 
as a boy or those he works 
with tcday as a professor 
of history at Gallaudet 
Hollywood, as usual, re- 
flects ignorance of the 
broader culture. Many 
studies that have recently 
explored the presentation 
of various groups in 
American society on the 
basis of gender, ethnicity, 
or class, and now disability, 
have found Hollywood 
mired in formula and 

stereotype. Schuchman 
thinks it is far past time to 
do away with negative 
and stereotypical images 
of deafness, to retire the 
image of victim as object 
of pity, to stop presenting 
deafness as a pathological 

The author makes his 
case very well. He traces 
the depiction of deafness 
over eighty years and 
compares the Holl3rwood 
version with the reality. He 
finds reflected in Holly- 
wood's products a na- 
tional cultural bias toward 
deafness and deaf people. 
These products have done 
their share of harm. For 
example, audiences have 
been insensitive to comic 
parodies of deafness and 
the "dummy" figure. Gen- 
erations of Americans 
have grown up with their 
prejudices formed and re- 
inforced by film and tele- 
vision stereotypes. 

The typical Hollywood 
plot has involved lots of "I 
can hear" miracles brought 
on by some trauma. Deaf 
characters in films are of- 
ten expert lip readers and 
capable of perfect speech — 
very uncommon character- 
istics of the prelingually 
deaf. When American Sign 
Language — a crucial as- 
pect of deaf communica- 
tion — has been used at all, 
it more often than not has 
been badly done, or the 
camera cuts to the hearing 
actor's expression and the 
effect of signing is lost. 
Deaf actors have seldom 
been employed to play the 
parts of deaf characters. It 
was 1968 before the first 
adult deaf actor on a net- 
work series appeared. In 


AJ/Summer 1990 

1986 the deaf actress 
Marlee Matlin had the first 
starring role in a major 
motion picture. 

Schuchman recounts 
how the images of deafness 
have changed over the 
decades. In silent films, 
deafness was used as a 
device of trickery; the deaf 
depicted as tragic, pitiful, 
dependent victims. In the 
1930s and 1940s, the deaf 
were portrayed as mutes 
with little significant 
signed dialogue, or else 
as naturally speaking lip 
readers. Starting with 
Johnny Belinda in the late 
1940s, film and television 
began to feature deaf char- 
acters who used sign lan- 
guage in major roles. But 
the limited availability of 
captioned movies after 
1927 still excluded the deaf 
audience from the me- 
dium. Schuchman's point 
is that the deaf audience 
had every right to com- 
plain. Only in the 1970s, at 
the behest of the FCC, was 
closed caption technology 
provided for television 

In addition, the Holly- 
wood presentation has 
contributed little to the 
understanding of deafness. 
Movies dependent on for- 
mula and stereotype "have 
popularized a simple- 
minded view of deafness." 
As educators, we have to 
keep in mind what our 
students may or may not 
know about deafness. This 
book will make them ques- 
tion the presentation of 
deafness as well as other 
cultural "types." The his- 
torical presentation of 
deafness in Hollywood 
films and television pro- 

grams covers the silent 
movie era, talking motion 
pictures, the changing of 
the "dummy" stereotype, 
the appearance of deaf 
actors, and the impact of 
television. Professor 
Schuchman's carefully re- 
searched filmography de- 
scribes hundreds of inter- 
esting movies and televi- 
sion programs featuring 
some aspect of deafness. 

Hollywood Speaks is a sig- 
nificant contribution to an 
important aspect of film 

. . . Maureen J. Nemecek 
Oklahoma State University 


By Paula R. Backscheider. 

• Johns Hopkins University 

•1989,688 pp. 

• $29.95, Cloth 

1731) was not only a great 
founder of the English 
novel but also a father — 
some say the father — of 
English journalism. Defoe's 
influence transcended the 
modern-day divide be- 
tween "literature" and 
journalism. His young 
manhood spanned the 
Restoration in English his- 
tory, which included the 
Glorious Revolution in 
1688 and the demise of the 
last Newspaper Licensing 
Act in 1694. These two oc- 
currences reflected, respec- 
tively, the ascendence of 
the English parliament 
over the English crown, 
and the end of any but a 

nominal attempt by mon- 
archs William and Mary to 
control the English press. 
Great literary journalists 
like Defoe and Jonathan 
Swift were the result. 

Defoe's heritage as a jour- 
nalist included the famous 
Miltonic doctrine of free- 
dom of the press, uttered 
in 1644 during the English 
Civil War, and the Whig- 
Tory system of two-party 
government that grew out 
of that conflict. Whereas 
John Bunyan was the last 
of the Puritans to be of lit- 
erary significance, Defoe 
was the first of the "Dis- 
senters" — those who fa- 
vored Presbyterianism or 
Independentism over the 
reestablished Anglican 
church, which came with 
the restoration of Charles 
II to the English throne in 
1660 — to be of journalistic- 
literary significance. 

Defoe founded the Whig 
periodical Review in 1704, 
at a time when English 
journalism was barely 
fifty years old. Roger 
L'Estrange, editor of the 
Tory Observator, died the 
same year. Showing the 
connections among jour- 
nalism, verse forms of the 
day, and religious pam- 
phleteering, L' Estrange' s 
paper was written in a dia- 
logue that often rhetori- 
cally pitted religio-political 
foes against one another in 
a provocative manner. 
Defoe, having been pillo- 
ried three times in 1703, 
avoided this tradition, as 
well as the violent party 
affiliation of seventeenth- 
century journalism, and 
founded the Review along 
more moderate lines, with 
more of an eye toward 

Book Reviews 


commerce and literature 
than partisanship. 

Defoe's career was a 
hodgepodge of successes 
and failures, bankruptcy 
and rescue, obscurity and 
the eventual climb to liter- 
ary immortality with the 
publication, at age sixty, of 
Robinson Crusoe — although 
the book was not well re- 
ceived by the literary es- 
tablishment of Defoe's 
day, aimed as it was at the 
increasingly influential 
English middle class. 
Indeed, Crusoe contains so 
many of the values of the 
English middle class as to 
make it virtually a mirror 
of the manners of early 
eighteenth-century British 
bourgeois life, a culture 
whose contours Crusoe 
does not desert even dur- 
ing his marooning. 

Implicit in Robinson 
Crusoe were not only the 
values of the middle class 
but a new economic as well: 
the publishing of adven- 
ture books on speculation, 
without aristocratic pa- 
tronage. As a corollary to 
this new method, as Edwin 
Emery has pointed out, 
Crusoe was widely repub- 
lished in American colo- 
nial newspapers. 

Paula R. Backscheider's 
Daniel Defoe: His Life is one 
of the few Defoe biogra- 
phies to give plenary treat- 
ment to his literary-politi- 
cal journalism and to his 
connections and contribu- 
tions to the press system of 
his day. Backscheider, a 
professor of English at the 
University of Rochester, 
traces Defoe's life in three 
parts: (1) his birth to a 
Remish butcher's family, 
through his brief career as 

a merchant who quickly 
went bankrupt, to recov- 
ery — only to find himself a 
political fugitive and, fi- 
nally, a political prisoner; 
(2) his middle life, starting 
with his release from 
prison by the influence of 
a high-ranking govern- 
ment official who used 
him later as a political spy, 
to his forced remove from 
a relatively moderate com- 
mercial position, to more 
of the partisan journalism 
that had got him pilloried 
in 1703; (3) a resurgence of 
his literary talent and ef- 
forts in the face of failing 
political alliances, to Robin- 
son Crusoe and literary suc- 
cess, followed by a typi- 
cally bourgeois concern for 
progress-oriented "proj- 
ects" — followed by declin- 
ing health and death. 

On the way, we learn 
what an exciting life Defoe 
really did live: his convic- 
tion for sedition, his politi- 
cal role as a double agent, 
his creation of a spy net- 
work, his infiltration of ri- 
val newspapers, and his 
acquaintance with some of 
the most famous and noto- 
rious people of his day. 

Backscheider's book, the 
first fuUbiography of Defoe 
since 1958, is extremely 
well-researched and richly 
detailed, and includes pre- 
viously unpublished 
manuscript material from 
almost every period of 
Defoe's life. It will surely 
be the definitive biography 
of Defoe for sorne time to 
come. Backscheider, who 
occasionally falls a little 
into the jargon of literary 
analysis, is best when de- 
tailing some facet of the 
author's life and not evalu- 

ating his work. Here is a 
representative passage: 
"Even in this tumultuous, 
serious world, Defoe must 
have done the things chil- 
dren always do. He must 
have played in the vacant 
lots and built with the 
stones and boards in the 
wreckage from the fire. He 
undoubtedly knew the 
markets, shops, ware- 
houses, and wharves of the 
city well. He surely saw 
pickpockets pumped [Wa- 
ter was pumped on them 
for punishment], thieves 
hanged, and the carriages 
of the wealthy crowd the 
narrow streets." 

Although Daniel Defoe: 
His Life may perhaps be 
more interesting to an au- 
dience with a penchant for 
literary history, it will 
yield a good deal of satis- 
faction as well to those in- 
terested in journalism his- 
tory, especially to those in- 
terested in the history of 
literary journalism. 
Backscheider's scholar- 
ship, at times formidable, 
is never forbidding, and 
she is a gifted, entertaining 
writer. Her book is an im- 
portant contribution, then, 
to two fields — journalism 
and literature — whose 
modern-day dichotomy 
her adventuresome, dis- 
senting subject would 
likely neither have ap- 
proved of nor understood. 
Highly recommended. 

. . . Gary L. Whitby 
Springhill College 


AJ /Summer 1990 


By Leslie Midgley. 
• Birch Lane Press 
•1989,320 pp. 
•$19.95, Cloth 

Murray in the fall 1989 is- 
sue of this journal: "An- 
other book about CBS?" 

Afraid so. This time an- 
other veteran of that much- 
written-about network, al- 
though not an on-air per- 
sonality, takes readers 
through his career, which 
began on newspapers, 
moved to magazines, and 
ended at CBS, where he 
spent twenty-five years, 
five of them as executive 
producer of the "Evening 

Like most books of this 
type, this is largely a fond 
remembrance of things 
past, anecdotally presented 
by a man who thoroughly 
enjoyed what he was doing, 
sought to do it well, and, 
seemingly, almost never 
experienced a dull moment. 

As such, it has greater 
potential interest for 
young people entering the 
news professions — par- 
ticularly broadcasting — 
than it does for communi- 
cation history researchers. 
For the researcher's pur- 
poses, it is rather thin and 
not particularly fresh. 
Midgley was there for 
many of the great events 
of his times, from World 
War II through the convul- 
sive 1960's, Vietnam, and 
Watergate. But so were 
countless others, many of 
whom have written about 

the same things with 
greater depth and analysis. 

The first third of the 
book is about Midgely's 
print career, which in- 
cluded stints on the Denver 
Post, Louisville Courier- 
Journal, Chicago Times, and 
New York Herald Tribune, 
including the latter's Paris 
edition, and Collier's and 
Look magazines. Research- 
ers interested in those or- 
ganizations and people 
who worked for them 
might find something of 
interest here. There is a 
helpful name index. 

Midgley also describes 
the production of some of 
the many CBS documenta- 
ries and instant news spe- 
cials of his tenure, such as 
the fall of the Diem regime 
and coverage of the JFK 
assassination in 1963 and 
several tributes to such 
people as Richard Rogers, 
John Wayne, and Jack 

The presentation is stac- 
cato. Short, punchy para- 
graphs. Lots of sentence 

As for the general level 
of analysis, this is about it: 

'Television news offers 
pictures that demand at- 
tention and with them 
bring emotion, which is 
not to be scorned but in- 
deed highly prized. 

"Printed news offers far 
more complete informa- 

'Take your pick." 

In fairness, he doesn't 
pretend to be profound: 
'The whole ball of wax of 
television and its effect on 
society cries out for a Gun- 
nar Myrdal to explain 
what it really is and what 
its future is going to be." 

Until that happens, one 
might more profitably 
spend time with two other 
recent books, one a mem- 
oir, the other an interpre- 
tive study — Russell 
Baker's The Good Times and 
Peter J. Boyer's Who Killed 
CBS? — ^before picking up 
Midgely's largely glossy 

. . . Daniel W. Pfaff 
Pennsylvania State Univ. 


Edited by Roger Chartier and 
translated by Lydia B. 

• Princeton University Press 
•1989,351 pp. 

• $45, Cloth 

wines, sauces, and liter- 
ary/cultural studies, the 
same doctrine seems to 
apply: "If it's French, it's 
got to be good." Properly 
deconstructed, this doc- 
trine turns out to be more 
religious faith than natural 
law. But, like most reli- 
gious faiths, there's a nug- 
get of truth in it; and this is 
especially so for that sub- 
field of literary/cultural 
studies known as "the his- 
tory of the book." In this 
field, I'm pleased to report, 
the doctrine usually holds 
up very well indeed. 

What French historians 
have done so well is to 
turn the technological his- 
tory of printing and the 
business history of pub- 

Book Reviews 


lishing into the cultural 
history of reading and 
readers. They have pio- 
neered in the study of, not 
just literacy, but the uses of 
literacy. A major figure in 
this new cultural history of 
reading has been Roger 
Chartier, editor and con- 
tributing author of The 
Culture of Print. Chartier 
was a key organizer of the 
collaborative effort that 
produced the Histoire de 
VEdition Francaise, which 
has inspired similar multi- 
volume projects in Britain, 
Germany, and the United 
States. His own book on 
the culture of print has re- 
cently become available to 
English readers as The Cul- 
tural Uses of Print in Early 
Modern France (Princeton 
University Press, 1987), 
translated by Lydia G. 

The main theme of much 
of this work, including the 
essays in The Culture of 
Print, is what Chartier calls 
the "plural appropria- 
tions" of the printed word. 
The term "power" in the 
subtitle is important and 
intentionally ambiguous. 
Several of the essays are 
about how printing was 
used by elites to impose 
authority and orthodoxy 
in religion or politics. But 
the imposition of authority 
via print is risky, for while 
the authorities may do the 
printing, it is the reader 
who reads. And reading 
seems to be an enterprise 
inherently corrosive of au- 
thority. This book is about 
that cultural corrosion. It is 
a collection of case studies 
of how texts were appro- 
priated by readers for their 
own uses, with chapters 

on hagiographic pam- 
phlets, sensational tracts, 
prayer books, marriage 
covenants, doctrinal 
books, and official news 
proclamations. Most of the 
authors discuss pictures as 
well as words, and the 
book includes some won- 
derful illustrations (unfor- 
tunately reduced to eye- 
squinting size). 

My own favorite chapter 
is by Paul Saenger on 
manuscript "Books of 
Hours" (prayer books) in 
the late Middle Ages. 
Saenger describes a critical 
change in the nature of 
reading in western Europe 
well before the age of 
print. This was the devel- 
opment of silent reading 
and its uses in a new style 
of private religious piety. 
Saenger explains how si- 
lent reading (as opposed 
to oral liturgy and ritual 
prayer) required a new 
kind of "comprehension 
literacy" and, significantly, 
promoted a new intimacy 
between the reader and 
the book, an intimacy be- 
yond the purview of priest 
and prince. In other words, 
long before Gutenberg set 
his first line of type, the 
book had begun to speak 
directly to the mind of the 
reader; and the world was 
changed. Perhaps as well 
as anything I've read, this 
little essay shows how the 
power of the word inheres 
in the reading not in the 
printing, in the reader not 
in the press. 

Of course, the nine es- 
says in The Culture of Print 
are not equally good. 
Some suffer from the con- 
genital defect of cultural 
studies: too much specula- 

tion; not enough empirical 
research. In several chap- 
ters the readers are more 
inferred than found, and 
the argim\ents are largely 
the authors' own more-or- 
less inspired readings of 
texts. Most are nicely em- 
pirical however, and there 
is mercifully little of the 
jargon of French literary 
studies that American 
scholars find so helpful 
when they are confused. 
Indeed, several of the es- 
says are ingenious and 
quite successful in their re- 
lentless pursuit of readers. 
For example, Chartier 
himself makes excellent 
use of a collection of mar- 
riage charters, many of 
which were altered and 
customized by their buy- 
ers; Marie-Elisabeth 
Ducreux draws upon the 
interrogation dossiers of 
Protestant book readers 
caught up in the Catholic 
inquisition in eighteenth- 
century Bohemia. 

Might American histori- 
ans learn research meth- 
ods as well as jargon from 
the French? I think so. In- 
deed, it is happening al- 
ready. Several recent 
books suggest that Ameri- 
can historians are develop- 
ing an exciting and genu- 
inely empirical history of 
reading and readers in this 
country. My own favorites 
are Cathy N. Davidson, 
Revolution and the VJord: 
The Rise of the Novel in 
America (Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1986); David D. 
Hall, YJorUs of Wonder, 
Days of Judgment: Popular 
Religious Belief in Early New 
England (Knopf, 1989); and 
Richard D. Brown, Knowl- 
edge Is Power. The Diffusion 


AJ /Summer 1990 

of Information in Early 
America, 1700-1865 (Oxford 
Ur\iversity Press, 1989). 

Perhaps the pubUcation 
of The Culture of Print will 
inspire us to bring this new 
history of reading into the 
history of American jour- 

. . . David Paul Nord 
Indiana University 

C/?>1/TSM4A/ (1734-1 739) 
By Martin C. Battestin with a 
stylometric analysis by 
Michael G. Farringdon. 

• University Press of Virginia 
•1989,640 pp. 

• $50, Cloth 

reputation as a leading 
eighteenth<entury novel- 
ist, as the popularity of his 
masterpiece Tom Jones con- 
tinues to prove, has en- 
dured well the test of cen- 
turies. His reputation also 
rests upon his work as a 
dramatist and essayist. 
Yet, in regard to his es- 
says, it has long been 
thought that he wrote 
more than has been ac- 
knowledged. Martin C. 
Battestin has found and 
identified forty-one addi- 
tional Fielding essays, 
which he presents in this 
volume. They appeared as 
anonymous and pseu- 
donymous contributions 
to the Craftsman between 
1734 and 1739. 

The volume marufests 
monumental scholarship 
and reports significant 
findings. Battestin's pur- 
pose in doing it was "to 
disclose not only one of 
the best kept, but one of 
the most important, secrets 
of eighteenth<entury lit- 
erature." Only someone 
with his impeccable cre- 
dentials as a Fielding 
scholar could have carried 
this study to successful 
conclusion, for it involved 
rigorous and extensive ap- 
plication of literary attri- 
bution methodology. He 
demonstrates a master's 
touch at perceiving paral- 
lels and correspondences 
of thought and language 
between the attributed 
works and Fielding's 
known writings. In 
Battestin's judgment, 
thirty-one of the essays, 
which constitute the body 
of the book, bear abundant 
and distinctive signs of 
Fielding's probable au- 
thorship. He is less certain 
of ten other essays, which 
he includes as an Appen- 
dix, but he feels they con- 
tain enough traces to make 
them "unmistakably Field- 
ing's work." "A Stylomet- 
ric Analysis" of the texts 
by Michael G. Farringdon 
is included at the end in 
order to give the reader 
the benefit of different 
methodological validation 
of the essays. Farringdon's 
statistical analysis supports 
Battestin's case, and the 
combination of literary 
and scientific methods 
found in this study make it 
a unique contribution to 
literary scholarship. 

The appeal of the vol- 
ume, however, goes be- 

yond its impressive dis- 
play of the scholarship of 
literary attribution. 
Battestin is to be com- 
mended for his presenta- 
tion of the individual es- 
says. Each is preceded by a 
full and engaging intro- 
ductory statement and fol- 
lowed by elaborate notes 
that informed readers will 
not wish to skip. The es- 
says reveal Fielding's nar- 
rative skills and erudition. 
They are amusing, satiri- 
cal, and sometimes cynical 
but always effective state- 
ments in the Hanoverian 
public debate. They pene- 
trate into the whirlwind of 
the era's political journal- 
ism, for the Craftsman was 
the "principal political 
journal of the decade." 
Moreover, as the leading 
organ of the opposition, it 
afforded Fielding repeated 
opportunity to attack 
prime minister Sir Robert 
Walpole. One of his favor- 
ite targets was Walpole's 
Daily Gazetteer. Fielding's 
ridicule of that paper and 
other vehicles of the minis- 
terial press easily conveys 
the contempt he had for 
Walpole and his "legion of 
propagandists." Journalism 
historians will be particu- 
larly interested in several 
essays that deal with libel 
and liberty of the press, 
and they will especially 
wish to study one entitled 
"On the Untruthfulness of 
Newswriters," in which 
Fielding attacks the irre- 
sponsibility of contempo- 
rary journalists. 

New Essays by Henry 
Fielding is a significant 
book for scholars and for 
general readers with an in- 
terest in Fielding. Journal- 

Book Reviews 


ism historians will find it 
informative about the style 
and content of eighteenth- 
century political journal- 
ism and will encounter in 
it many examples of the 
cultural and humorous 
rhetoric that characterized 
the press at that time. It is 
unfortunate that the 
book's price will limit its 
acquisition mainly to spe- 
cialists and libraries with 
an interest in eighteenth- 
century studies. They, 
however, should not be- 
without it. 

. . . James D. Startt 
Valparaiso University 


Edited by Carl Schlesinger. 

• Oak Knoll Books 
•1989,144 pp. 

• $35, Cloth 

collection on Ottmar 
Mergenthaler, inventor of 
the linotype, presents an 
assortment of information 
about the inventor, his in- 
vention, and the story of 
its commercial introduc- 
tion and diffusion. The 
bulk of the volume con- 
sists of the reprinted 1898 
"biography," apparently 
dictated by the consump- 
tive Mergenthaler himself 
a year or two before his 
death. The volume also in- 
cludes the following: com- 
ments by Wolfgang Kum- 
mer of Linotype AG and 
by Elizabeth Harris of the 
Division of Graphic Arts at 

the National Museum of 
American History; docu- 
mentation establishing the 
autobiographical nature of 
the "biography"; an article 
reprinted from the New 
York Tribune of 1889 de- 
scribing that newspaper's 
experience with the ma- 
chine; selected pages from 
the catalogue of Mergen- 
thaler' s machine shop; an 
annotated collection of 
photographs, illustrations, 
and textual reproductions; 
Schlesinger's identification 
of the linotype-set portions 
of the first Tribune page to 
include them; and his tech- 
nical explanation of how 
the linotype print might 
have been made to match 
the hand-composed text as 
closely as it does. 

Mergenthaler' s linotype, 
so called because it typeset 
an entire "line of type" 
from text entered at a 
typewriter-like keyboard, 
allowed one operator to 
perform the work of both 
the hand compositor and 
the type foundry. It con- 
structed a type mold letter 
by letter, adjusted spacing 
between words to justify 
the line, filled the mold 
with molten metal, turned 
out the final line of type, 
and re-sorted the molds. 
According to the biogra- 
phy, Mergenthaler, a ma- 
chinist and model builder 
in Washington and later 
Baltimore, arrived at this 
final conception after a se- 
ries of improvements on a 
machine he was asked to 
model but that proved im- 
practicable. Mergenthaler 
worked with the backers 
of the original version, and 
with the company they 
formed; he did not hold 

the patents, and he never 
had a controlling interest 
in the company. This cir- 
cumstance became par- 
ticularly critical when 
company control passed 
into the hands of a news- 
paper syndicate. The syn- 
dicate was interested in 
acquiring machines for its 
own use but not, for a time, 
in making them available 
to others: from 1886 to 
1889 the company essen- 
tially undermined its own 
reputation publicly, while 
newspapers such as the 
Tribune were in fact using 
the linotype. By the time 
company control shifted 
and other stockholders at- 
tempted to resecure its 
reputation, Mergenthaler 
had been forced to relin- 
quish what control he had 

Thus Mergenthaler' s 
story stands in stark con- 
trast to the prevalent myth 
of the successful inde- 
pendent inventor, and as 
testimony to the perils of 
the U.S. patent system. 
That the first printed page 
in Schlesinger's volume 
contains only a quote, 
printed in oversized type, 
"attributed" to Thomas 
Edison, heightens this 
irony: Edison's success has 
long formed the backbone 
of this myth, and one can 
therefore find quotes on all 
manner of topics "attrib- 
uted" to hinl. Unfortu- 
nately, this volume sup- 
ports an alternative myth, 
in this case one about the 
underappreciated genius 
who is badly mistreated 
by the greedy men who 
control his fate, and who 
dies young and unre- 
warded, a victim of over- 


AJ /Summer 1990 

work and heartbreak. Of 
course, elements of any 
myth are valid, but a more 
useful history must be 
crafted weighing the dif- 
ferent viewpoints pre- 
sented by different kinds 
of evidence, and incorpo- 
rating technical detail into 
a larger picture. The mate- 
rial in this volume may 
serve as a useful starting 
point for the student of 
this phase of printing his- 
tory; for a synthetic story 
placed in well-rounded 
historical context, the 
reader must look else- 

. . . Nina Lertnan 
University of Pennsylvania 


By Wan Ho Chang. 

• Iowa State University Press 
•1989,352 pp. 

• $34.95, Cloth 

changes in Eastern Europe 
and the Soviet Union point 
to a new role for the mass 
media in these countries. 
Exactly what that role is 
remains to be seen, but it is 
likely that the Soviet Com- 
munist media theory out- 
lined by Wilbur Schramm 
in Four Theories of the Press 
no longer applies. 

The example of China 
may indicate what is in 
store. In the late 1970s, as 
part of the economic re- 
forms of Deng Xiaoping, 
the mass media of that na- 
tion were allowed greater 
freedom than in the tradi- 

tional communist system. 
News values changed, 
new topics were covered, 
and journalists were al- 
lowed greater leeway in 
their work. 

To tell that story. Wan 
Ho Chang draws on inter- 
views with journalists in 
China, supplemented by 
printed sources such as 
Chinese journal articles 
and yearbooks. As director 
of the international gradu- 
ate journalism program at 
the University of Missouri, 
Chang has also worked 
with Chinese media pro- 
fessionals doing graduate 
work in the United States, 
and some of their research 
is incorporated into his 

The result is a detailed 
account of four newspa- 
pers and three broadcast- 
ing systems, preceded by a 
brief history of journalism 
in China and followed by 
a section on journalism 
education and Chinese 
journalists' perception of 
the role of the press. Par- 
ticularly interesting is the 
chapter on the World Eco- 
nomic Herald of Shanghai, 
one of the papers that 
sprang up as China moved 
toward a market economy 
and as the need for eco- 
nomic information grew. 
While it provides detailed 
information about the me- 
dia in China, Chang's reli- 
ance on Chinese sources 
has its problems. The tone 
of Mass Media in China is 
far from neutral. In accor- 
dance with the Commu- 
nist Party line of the 1980s, 
the "ultraleftist" policies of 
Mao Zedong and the Gang 
of Four are denounced 
throughout the book, and 

the leadership of Deng is 
praised. Also, in an echo 
from the debate over a 
new world information 
order, the Chinese media 
are lauded for growing 
more and more objective 
because of their connection 
to the Commvmist Party, 
while Western journalists 
are seen as incapable of 
objectivity because their 
news is written to sell pa- 

The Marxist angle is par- 
ticularly evident in the his- 
torical section, which ac- 
counts for about one-sixth 
of the book. Chinese jour- 
nalism history is seen pri- 
marily as the history of the 
press of the Communist 
Party, even before the for- 
mation of the People's Re- 
public in 1949. Thus, the 
media of the Chiang 
Kai-shek regime are barely 

Unfortunately for a book 
about the future of the 
Chinese mass media, the 
events of June 1989 have 
belied much of the opti- 
mism and faith in Deng 
that is expressed in 
Chang's book. As the au- 
thor notes in a sad, brief 
afterword, the Chinese 
press has chosen to tell the 
history of the student pro- 
tests based not on what re- 
ally happened but on 
Party directives, describ- 
ing the reporting about the 
student protests before 
they were crushed as the 
work of "a small band of 
thugs" seeking to confuse 
the people. If Mass Media 
in China had taken a more 
disinterested view toward 
its topic, the difference be- 
tween the book and its af- 
terword would have 

Book Reviews 


seemed less ironic and in- 

... Jonas Bjork 
Indiana Univ. at Indianapolis 


By Carlton Jackson. 

• Madison Books 
•1989,256 pp. 
•$17.95, Cloth 


By Melvyn Douglas and Tom 

• University Press of America 
•1986,268 pp. 

•$25.75, Cloth; $10.25, Paper 

Ronald Reagan to the 
presidency — and his per- 
formance as president — 
have raised scholarly 
interest in the political 
uses of celebrity, and in 
the politician-as-celebrity. 
Michael Rogin's recent 
work, Ronald Reagan, the 
Movie: And Other Aspects of 
Political Demonology, has 
shown how, in Reagan's 
case, these two very differ- 
ent figurations of Ameri- 
can popularity came to- 
gether in a single individ- 
ual. What is often forgot- 
ten is that the actor-presi- 
dent had important his- 
torical precedents in Hol- 
lywood. As a mass me- 
dium, the movies had cre- 
ated personages of genu- 
inely national influence, 
and because of the movies' 
uruque representational 
abilities, these individuals 

had a corporeality, and 
therefore a presence, un- 
like any such personalities 
before them. When to this 
presence was added the 
motion picttire industry's 
genius and enthusiasm for 
promotion, the results 
could be both awesome 
and frightening. 

Lary May, in his The 
Screening of America, has 
ably shown that Douglas 
Fairbanks and Mary 
Pickford were the first 
(and perhaps to this day 
the most adroit) actor and 
actress to translate their 
screen images into off- 
screen personalities. These 
personalities, in fact as 
carefully managed and as 
fictional as any film role, 
were the basis of a tran- 
scendent, international 
fame, which in turn made 
Pickford and Fairbanks 
virtually political figures 
in America, and caused 
them to be treated as de 
facto royalty and arbiters 
of manners and mores 
from about World War I 
through the late 1920s. 
Two recent books view the 
intertwining of politics 
and celebrity from very 
different perspectives, but 
both have as a premise the 
extraordinary poignancy 
of motion picture stardom 
in a political context. Dur- 
ing the so-called "Golden 
Age" of Hollywood 
(which both these works 
treat) the power of the 
movies as a cultural force 
was unquestioned, and 
star images were central to 
individual identification 
and mass socialization in a 
nation that sent ninety mil- 
lion people through the 
doors of movie theaters 

every week. Here, a biog- 
rapher and an autobiogra- 
phist deal with the politi- 
cal implications of this 
power, and in both cases, 
the subjects of these books, 
actress Hattie McDaniel 
and actor Melvyn 
Douglas, are finally, fasci- 
natingly, unable to under- 
stand the sources of their 
own celebrity, and of the 
difficulties both found 
when this celebrity was 
translated into the political 
arena. But the reader will 
find in these works the cir- 
cumstances and conse- 
quences of political activ- 
ity in the lives of two 
whose fame originated in 
their skills as performers, 
and extended into a quite 
different realm. 

Carlton Jackson's admir- 
ing biography of Hattie 
McDaniel is a welcome ad- 
dition to the continuing ef- 
fort by scholars such as 
EXjnald Bogle, Richard 
Dyer, and most notably 
Thomas Cripps to chal- 
lenge the negative consen- 
sus on early black moving- 
image performers. That 
consensus, on actors such 
as Louise Beavers, Stepin 
Fetchit, Eddie Anderson, 
and Bill Robinson, as well 
as McDaniel, arose solely 
from interpretations of the 
stereotyped characters 
those actors played in the 
light of the later history of 
the civil rights movement. 
Those roles of the thirties 
and forties are often hu- 
miliating and embarrass- 
ing by present standards, 
but until the publication of 
Thomas Cripps's Slow Fade 
To Black (0)dord Univer- 
sity Press, 1977), few 
scholars had been willing 


AJ /Summer 1990 

to exchange solid research 
for bad criticism when dis- 
cussing the image of black 
performers on screen. 

In Hattie McDaniel, 
Jackson has a worthy, fas- 
cinating central figure. A 
gifted performer on stage, 
screen and radio, McDaniel 
won a 1939 Academy 
Award for "Gone With the 
Wind," the first ever given 
a black. But that was 
merely one of a dozen im- 
portant "firsts" that made 
McDaniel a herald of inte- 
gration in the entertain- 
ment industry. Following 
Cripps's example, Jackson 
is adroit in suggesting the 
impact McDaniel's career 
had on black Americans of 
her time. Historians of the 
black press will find useful 
Jackson's examination of 
the reception of McDaniel's 
life and films in papers 
such as the Pittsburgh Cou- 
rier and the Amsterdam 
News, although more sys- 
tematic coverage of these 
and other black journals 
would have been welcome. 

As a serious talent and as 
a figure in the pre-history 
of the civil rights move- 
ment, Hattie McDaniel re- 
ceives excellent testimony 
in her behalf from Jackson. 
Where McDaniel's career 
is well-documented, such 
as during her years with 
producer David O. 
Selznick in the late 1930s 
and early 1940s, Jackson 
provides an especially in- 
formative account of the 
debates about the screen 
image of the black Ameri- 
can that took place off- 
screen, in writers' minds, 
producers' offices, and in 
newspaper columns. 

Most often, however. 

such documentation of the 
lives of black performers 
just doesn't exist. For in- 
stance, in discussing 
McDaniel's careers as a sa- 
loon singer in Milwaukee 
and as the star of the radio 
and television show 
"Beulah," Jackson's narra- 
tive could have benefited 
from more rigorous local 
and corporate history, re- 
spectively, rather than rely 
so heavily on anecdote 
and McDaniel's own pa- 
pers. A more precise focus 
on the position of blacks 
within these institutions 
could only strengthen 
Jackson's picture of an in- 
dividual at the very center 
of incipient social change. 

In a readable, enthusias- 
tic manner, Carlton 
Jackson makes Hattie 
McDaniel the heroine of 
her own life. This choice 
has its pitfalls; as Jackson 
would admit, McDaniel 
was often not the engineer 
of integration in the enter- 
tainment industry, but 
rather a very important 
lightning rod around 
whom the storms of the 
early civil rights move- 
ment raged. Black artists 
like McDaniel lived in an 
uncomfortable space, 
bounded on one side by 
the roles their white em- 
ployers offered them, on 
another by the values they 
were asked to portray as 
the most visible members 
of their race, and on a 
third by their own pro- 
clivities and interests. The 
way into that space may 
not be accessible to any bi- 
ographer, but in its explo- 
ration lies the meaning of 
these remarkable lives. 

Melvyn Douglas was, in 

many ways beyond racial 
distinction, McDaniel's 
functional opposite, and so 
his autobiography tells of 
an inversion of the terms 
of her celebrity. Douglas 
actively sought a role as a 
minor political policy- 
maker. But while McDaniel 
gained political integrity 
from her films, Douglas 
continually found his 
lightweight screen image a 

Douglas quickly won 
movie stardom in the early 
1930s, after an apprentice- 
ship in stock and on 
Broadway. At MGM in the 
1930s and 1940s, he was 
often cast as a suave, witty 
leading man, a perfect 
complement to the stu- 
dio's leading women such 
as Garbo, Crawford, Diet- 
rich, and Loy. After World 
War II service, bored with 
his screen career, Douglas 
returned to the stage, 
where he had a distin- 
guished career as an actor 
and director. Infrequent 
but brilliant film roles, in 
character parts, high- 
lighted Douglas's last 
years; he won two Acad- 
emy Awards before his 
death in 1981./'// See You 
at the Movies was written, 
with Tom Arthur of James 
Madison University, in the 
last years of the actor's life. 

Interestingly, Douglas's 
career crossed that of 
McDaniel at a crucial junc- 
ture in both their lives. 
Douglas tested for the part 
of Rhett Butler in "Gone 
With the Wind," and 
though producer David O. 
Selznick judged his per- 
formance the finest read- 
ing of the part he had seen, 
he nonetheless cast Clark 

Book Reviews 


Gable. It is significant that 
this disappointment is un- 
mentioned in Douglas's 
autobiography; indeed, 
Douglas's film career is 
given almost desultory 
treatment. He quickly out- 
grew movie stardom, and 
much of his account of his 
days as leading man is 
filled with anecdotes that 
suggest that he found the 
behavior of other actors, 
such as Crawford and 
Gloria Swanson, infantile 
and bizarre in the extreme. 

Where McDaniel con- 
stantly struggled with the 
political implications of 
stardom, Douglas sought 
anonymity, seeking to 
make his political way in 
the late New Deal period 
without recourse to his 
movie fame. As he discov- 
ered, this was impossible, 
and his career as a movie 
star and his life as a liberal 
political figure were con- 
stantly entangled. The 
somewhat naive Douglas 
was introduced to political 
action in the mid-1 930s 
through his wife, actress- 
turned-politician Helen 
Gahagan Douglas. His 
most sustained activity 
came during World War 
II, during which he served 
first in the Office of Civil- 
ian Defense, and then as a 
liaison officer in charge of 
entertaining troops in the 
China-Burma-India thea- 
ter. After the war, Douglas 
helped devise the remark- 
able "Call Me Mister," a 
"readjustment musical" 
that had great success on 
Broadway. The rest of 
Douglas's tale is that of a 
liberal gadfly, active dur- 
ing but never central to 
significant postwar mo- 

ments such as the Holly- 
wood blacklist, and the 
two Stevenson campaigns, 
the first presidential candi- 
date to use organized ce- 
lebrity endorsements and 
spokespersons such as 
Douglas and Myrna Loy. 
Readers of previous gen- 
eral works on politics and 
the Hollywood commu- 
nity, such as Larry Ceplair 
and Stephen Englund's 
The Inquisition in Hollywood 
(University of California 
Press, 1983), will find im- 
portant first-hand confir- 
mation here, written in 
Douglas's always thought- 
ful, articulate style. 
Douglas is also interested 
in the press reception of 
his political ventures, and 
these are cited throughout. 
The lives of Douglas and 
McDaniel are well-reported 
in these books, and their 
careers as public figures 
are two significant, if dif- 
ferent, examples of the in- 
terplay of the screen and 
social change as expressed 
in the persona of the 
movie star. 

. . . Kevin Jack Hagopian 
University of Wisconsin 


By Linda H. Davis. 
• Fromm International. 
•1989,300 pp. 
•$11.95, Paper 

Katharine S. White, an edi- 
tor and guiding force at 
the New Yorker for thirty- 
five years, provides a 

wealth of detail about both 
her professional and pri- 
vate lives. She came to the 
magazine in 1925, only six 
months after its founding, 
and soon made herself in- 
dispensable to editor 
Harold Ross, advising 
about everything from 
cover art to humor and 
making a case for the 
trend-setting poetry and 
fiction that became the 
New Yorker" s trademark. 
She discovered and culti- 
vated such writers as John 
O'Hara and Vladimir Na- 
bokov. Janet Planner, a 
longtime New Yorker con- 
tributor, called her "the 
best woman editor in the 

In writing this biogra- 
phy, originally published 
two years earlier by 
Harper and Row, author 
Linda H. Davis had the 
good fortune to receive as- 
sistance from White's fam- 
ily members, including her 
children and her husband, 
E.B. White. She also used 
Katharine White's papers 
and letters, deposited at 
the Bryn Mawr College 
Library, to good advan- 
tage and benefited from 
interviews with many of 
her acquaintances. Still, as 
Davis admits in her pref- 
ace, something "essentially 
private and unknowable" 
remained. That undoubt- 
edly would have pleased 
White, a reserved New 
Englander who refused 
even to be included in a 
1937 edition of Women of 
Achievement, because she 
saw it only as an appeal to 
the vanity of those it de- 

Although she became en- 
gaged at eighteen to law 


AJ /Summer 1990 

student Ernest Angell, 
White always intended to 
work outside her home. 
Attending Bryn Mawr 
while Angell finished his 
law degree at Harvard 
only reinforced her deter- 
mination. The couple post- 
poned marriage until a 
year after her graduation. 
Angell had joined his fa- 
ther's law firm in Cleve- 
land, where White found a 
job surveying the living 
and working conditions of 
the city's handicapped 
residents. She maintained 
her own bank account and 
divided the household ex- 
penses. When asked, late 
in her life, if a hospital 
form should list her occu- 
pation as "housewife," she 
replied indignantly, "semi- 
retired fiction editor." 

She tried several jobs, 
both paid and volunteer, 
after the Angells moved to 
New York City in 1919. By 
the time she found her 
niche at the New Yorker, 
she had two children and 
problems with her mar- 
riage. She met E.B. White 
through his work for the 
magazine and married 
him a few months after a 
Nevada divorce in 1929. 
She had a third child in 
1930, at age thirty-eight. 

Davis suggests that 
White found in her work 
at the New Yorker an outlet 
for her maternal instincts 
more satisfying than actu- 
ally mothering her chil- 
dren. This example of the 
author's psychologizing is 
one of many scattered 
throughout the book, some 
better substantiated and 
more gracefully expressed 
than others. Certainly 
White developed close re- 

lationships with her writ- 
ers and provided them 
with intelligent apprecia- 
tion, whether they were 
recognized writers or 
young college students. 
William Shawn, who suc- 
ceeded Ross as editor of 
the New Yorker, paid her 
this tribute, "Numberless 
writers have written better 
because of what you were 
able to give them, and 
many editors, including 
me, have been able to be of 
more service to writers 
and artists because of what 
you have taught them." 

The biography contains 
many such illuminating 
quotations from letters 
both to and from White. 
Particularly interesting are 
the views of herself that 
she included in correspon- 
dence with family and 
friends. More citations 
from her published work 
would have been helpful. 
Admittedly, she made her 
greatest contributions as 
an editor, but she also 
wrote columns and letters 
for the New Yorker. Davis 
offers very few samples of 
that work. 

Using no note numbers 
in the text, the book lists 
sources by page, with key 
words from quotations to 
identify them. This makes 
for easier reading but can 
be confusing when one 
tries to sort out references. 
A nice selection of photo- 
graphs is included, as well 
as an index. 

. . . Sherilyn Cox Bennion 
Humboldt State University 


By Henry Brandon. 
• Atheneum 
•1988,432 pp. 
•$19.95, Cloth 

plied Washington thirty- 
five years for The Sunday 
Times of London, has few 
matches in American jour- 
nalism history for me- 
thodically cultivating 
sources. In 1949, when his 
U.S. assignment became 
permanent and he needed 
a place to live, Brandon 
chose a neighborhood that 
would increase the likeli- 
hood of his path crossing 
that of "the mighty." For 
the same reason, he rev- 
eled in his bachelorhood 
because "the 'spare man' 
was a vital commodity on 
the dinner party circuit." 
His painstsJcing cultiva- 
tion of people in power 
compounded exponen- 
tially to include weekends 
at Ctean Acheson's farm, 
time at the Kennedy villa 
in Florida, and tennis with 
Richard Helms. "Social 
snorkeling," as he calls it, 
was not Brandon's sole ap>- 
proach to covering Wash- 
ington, but his mastery of 
it as a journalistic method 
was significant in distin- 
guishing his insightful 
weekly reports in the Sun- 
day Times. 

In Special Relationships, 
Brandon provides an inter- 
pretive chronicle of post- 
World War II U.S. policy- 
making. It is no mere re- 
hash. Brandon draws on 
secret documents not 

Book Reviews 


available when he was re- 
porting major events; on 
the memoirs of leading fig- 
ures; and on his own 
evolving perspective, 
sharpened by time. Anglo- 
American relations are il- 
luminated with fresh de- 
tail, as when Acheson was 
irked when Sir Anthony 
Earl presumed to call him 
"dear Dean" at their first 
meeting. On such things 
swung the "special rela- 
tionship" between these 
two countries. 

The "special relation- 
ships" of Brandon's title 
operates at several levels. 
For journalism historians, 
Brandon's explanations of 
relations between report- 
ers and sources are rich 
material for exploring the 
major shifts in journalistic 
practices since World War 
II. Snorkeling, as an ex- 
ample, was among the ac- 
cepted, even praiseworthy 
methodologies in the pre- 
Vietnam, pre-Watergate 
period, before American 
journalism became con- 
scious, some might say ob- 
sessed, about even the ap- 
pearance of undue source 
influence on their stories. 
In one sense, Brandon was 
ahead of his time in being 
sensitive to reporter-source 
relations. For instance, 
about his relationship with 
John Kennedy, he writes: 
"One way I dealt with this 
problem was to keep my 
private and professional 
relations separate. I never 
asked the president a pro- 
fessional question at pri- 
vate occasions. Or, when- 
ever I criticized Kermedy 
or his administration, I 
never asked myself 
whether this might end 

my relationship with 
him." Although sensitive 
to the possibility of being 
jeopardized by snorkeling, 
Brandon was less worried 
about appearing biased 
than about getting stories. 

Of similar interest to 
journalism historians are 
Brandon's accounts of 
governments using jour- 
nalists as couriers, another 
practice less tolerated to- 
day than before journalists 
began reassessing their 
methods in the late 1960s. 
Brandon tells of a 1961 in- 
terview in which new at- 
torney general Robert Ken- 
nedy communicated 
through him to the British 
government. Said Ken- 
nedy: "I hope you know 
we want David Ormsby- 
Gore as British Ambassa- 
dor here. You'd better tell 
your prime minister and 
your readers." 

Brandon relates stories of 
governments leaning on 
reporters, himself in- 
cluded, for peeking into 
foreign situations. In 1962, 
when Brandon returned 
from a reporting trip to 
Cuba, President John 
Kennedy sent a deputy to 
his house to debrief him. 
The president was aware 
at the time that Cuba was 
installing Russian ballistic 
missiles, but he didn't 
want the Russians to know 
that he knew, and he 
didn't want to risk tipping 
them by having Brandon 
seen coming to the White 
House even by a back 
door. Brandon had infor- 
mation the president 
found useful even though 
it was not enough for a 

Journalism historians 

also will find fresh mate- 
rial on the emergence of 
the question-answer for- 
mat for interview stories. 
In 1957, five years before 
Hugh Hefner introduced 
his polished Playboy inter- 
views, Brandon proposed 
tape-recorded, verbatim 
interviews to his editor as 
a way for the print media 
to compete with the direct- 
ness of television. The edi- 
tor's response: "We prac- 
tice the written word, 
therefore we cannot print 
the spoken word in the 
Sunday Times.." Brandon 
finally prevailed, and his 
series of interviews with 
American intellectuals fol- 

Brandon's book is pri- 
marily a reflective study 
on his experience covering 
U.S. foreign policy. Be- 
cause details on the era's 
reporting methods are sec- 
ondary to his main story, 
Brandon is neither defen- 
sive nor apologetic about 
them. The revelations are 
peripheral and unintended, 
which gives them special 

. . . John Vivian 
Winona State University 


Edited by Ted J. Smith III. 

• Praeger. 
•1989,192 pp. 

• $37.95, Cloth 

beggars would ride. If 
scholarly intentions were 
enough, then this book 
would comment on propa- 


AJ /Summer 1990 

ganda without practicing 
it. While readers may dis- 
agree with the pro-Right 
slant of some of the essay- 
ists, they will appreciate 
the multidisciplinary ap- 
proach to theoretical per- 
spectives and the applica- 
tion of propaganda tech- 
niques to contemporary 
situations. In the introduc- 
tion, Ted J. Smith III ex- 
plains that he hopes to 
generate discussion be- 
cause "propaganda has be- 
come inextricably inter- 
twined with political is- 
sues and perspectives." 

In his chapter, "Propa- 
ganda and Order in Mod- 
ern Society," J. Fred 
MacDonald suggests that 
an educated, liberal elite 
controls the multitude. He 
notes that popular arts 
promote cultural values. 
Artists create a West that 
never existed by shaping 
the past into images ap- 
pealing to the present. 
Propaganda enables the 
status quo to solidify 

On the other hand. Smith 
worries about the insidi- 
ous effect of anti-American 
messages hidden in the 
news. In his essay, "Propa- 
ganda and the Technique 
of Deception," he accuses 
journalists of deliberately 
presenting false informa- 
tion under the guise of 
news. He claims that re- 
porters promote their ide- 
ology at the expense of 
truth by not vindicating 
the United States when it 
is accused of crimes. Smith 
suggests that readers auto- 
matically believe the gov- 
ernment is guilty. Ironi- 
cally, he commits the 
Marxist intellectual fallacy 

of assiiming that the 
masses are zombies under 
the control of the voodoo 
press. His bizarre com- 
ments on relativism miss 
the point of that intellec- 
tual stance. Just because 
relativists believe values 
evolve within a cultural 
context does not mean 
they accept all perceptions 
of truth as coequal. Smith 
does not recognize the dif- 
ference between respecting 
diverse points of view and 
embracing them. 

Bob Smith and Roy 
Godson overlook the cul- 
tural conditioning that in- 
stills within citizens a 
sense of national pride and 
suspicion of anything for- 
eign, especially anything 
Communist. Occasionally, 
the authors draw uninten- 
tionally humorous conclu- 
sions. For example, while 
repeating Moscow's accu- 
sations that American sol- 
diers started the AIDS epi- 
demic. Godson observes: 
"When folded the abstract 
designs on each page de- 
pict soldiers (apparently 
American) engaged in sex- 
ual acts with each other." 
Apparently, behind the 
iron curtain even pornog- 
raphy is harnessed to pull 
the state's ideological 

The authors discuss the 
subject eruditely but lean, 
if not tip over, to the Right. 
For example, although J. 
Michael Hogan and David 
Olsen raise valid concerns 
about the one-sided nature 
of 'The Rhetoric of 'Nu- 
clear Education'" as it is 
articulated in the National 
Education Association's 
Choices program, they 
spoil their analysis by con- 

cluding that anyone who 
criticizes the government 
is a cynic. Instead of de- 
moralizing youth, drawing 
up petitions, writing let- 
ters, and testifying before 
committees give them les- 
sons in democratic partici- 
pation, Hogan and Olsen 
argue. Not everyone who 
supports the nuclear 
freeze approves of Choices. 
Hogan and Olsen dilute 
their strongest argument, 
that descriptions of the 
victims of nuclear bomb- 
ings frighten children, by 
lamenting the lack of de- 
pictions of atrocities suf- 
fered by prisoners of war. 

The best essay in the 
book is "Smoke and Mir- 
rors: A Confirmation of 
Jacques Ellul's Theory of 
Information Use in Propa- 
ganda" because Stanley B. 
Cunningham presents tell- 
ing examples from the 
world of tobacco adver- 
tisements to illustrate the 
famous philosopher's be- 
lief that information and 
propaganda intersect. 

Like many anthologies, 
the book lacks an integrat- 
ing focus. Once done with 
the introduction, one may 
read the chapters in any 
order. The intellectual 
flaw, which may be un- 
avoidable in such a trea- 
tise, is the stale parade of 
political justifications. 
Nevertheless, the essays 
raise intriguing questions 
about information, ideol- 
ogy, and democracy. No 
doubt Propaganda: A Plu- 
ralistic Perspective would 
provoke debates on the re- 
lationship between com- 
munication and truth in 
courses in mass communi- 
cation, rhetoric, history. 

Book Reviews 


political science, and 
American studies. 

. . . Paulette D Kilmer 
University of Missouri 


By William R. Hunt. 
• Bowling Green State Uni- 
versity Popular Press 
•1989,223 pp. 
•$35.95, Cloth; $18.95, Paper 

MOST NOTABLE journal- 
ists, as figures in the pub- 
lic eye, have at times found 
themselves the objects of 
criticism, but how many 
have been variously char- 
acterized as a faddist in- 
clined to crackpot notions, 
a cult leader with paranoid 
delusions, a gross vulgar- 
ian, the "apostle of the cor- 
poreal," and "the bare 
torso king"? 

What successful maga- 
zine publisher with some 
seventy-five books to his 
credit, other than Bernarr 
Macfadden, would have 
been pilloried by H.L. 
Mencken as an arrogant 
hillbilly possessed of a vast 
and cocksure ignorance? 
Macfadden, who had a 
California mountain 
named after him; who tried 
to elevate strength and 
health to the status of a re- 
ligion, calling it Cosmo- 
tarianism; who invented a 
device called, unbelieva- 
bly, the Wimpus to deal 
with male impotence; who 
considered all physicians 
to be money-hungry 
quacks and himself the 
possessor of limitless 

knowledge about the hu- 
man body and its functions, 
was truly one of a kind. 
His early feats of strength 
and his long career of flex- 
ing and posing and telling 
the rest of America how to 
grow strong and improve 
their lives, accounts for the 
nickname Time gave him — 
"Body-love Macfadden," 
which in turn accounts for 
the title of this book. 

In its 223 pages writer 
William R. Hunt, whose 
earlier books have dealt 
mainly with Alaska and 
the Arctic, takes an unbi- 
ased look at this flamboy- 
ant figure of the magazine 
and tabloid newspaper 
world of the early to mid- 
twentieth century. 

Why another Macfadden 
biography when four al- 
ready existed? The answer 
is that three of the four 
were by Macfadden "in- 
siders": Clement Wood, 
who was an employee; 
Fulton Oursler, one of 
Macfadden's top execu- 
tives; and Oursler's wife 
Grace. All three varied 
among the obsequious, the 
worshipful, and the re- 
spectful. The fourth and 
most recent of these biog- 
raphies (1953), by ex-wife 
number three Mary and 
former New York Graphic 
editor Emile Gauvreau, 
was weighted to the other 
side, making fun of the ag- 
ing muscle man and health 
fanatic, as its title. Dumb- 
bells and Carrot Strips, indi- 
cates. Macfadden, his $30 
million fortune in ruins 
and beset for back alimony 
by ex-wife number four, 
died two years after its 

Hunt provides a more 

balanced assessment of 
Macfadden's life and work, 
and does it in a readable 
style that can be enjoyed 
by both scholars and more 
general readers. The Bowl- 
ing Green State University 
Popular Press has done a 
creditable job of producing 
the book, which includes 
twenty-four pages of illus- 
trations. This reviewer's 
only complaints are that a 
number of pages popped 
out of the binding, and 
that the index might have 
been a bit more extensive. 
Hunt's well-researched 
account shows the writer's 
admiration for this singu- 
lar man's energy and au- 
dacity, but at the same 
time seems to agree with 
the American Medical As- 
sociation's comment that 
Macfadden was primarily 
"someone with something 
to sell." 

. . . Sam G. Riley 
Virginia Polytechnic Insti- 
tute and State University 


By Hazel Dicken-Garcia. 

• University of Wisconsin 


•1989,352 pp. 

•$42.50, Cloth; $14.50, Paper 

of the University of Min- 
nesota has offered a 
sweeping reading of nine- 
teenth-century journalism 
history in Journalistic Stan- 
dards in Nineteenth-Century 
America. The focus in this 
reading is an analysis of 


AJ /Summer 1990 

standards as understood 
by journalists and critics. 
Standards are understood 
to be rooted in the struc- 
ture and role of the press 
and in the practices of 
journalism, which are in 
turn rooted in cultvire; cul- 
ture is, in turn, understood 
broadly to include ideas, 
technology, economic, po- 
litical, social, and value 
structures. Dicken-Garcia 
is careful to distinguish 
her project from a study of 
ethics, which she describes 
as dealing with broader 
and less mutable values. In 
an interesting passage, she 
compares the current focus 
of journalism ethics with 
the "great person" view of 
history in that both em- 
phasize individual agency. 
In contrast, she calls for 
and employs a structural 
approach to standards. 

Within this conceptual 
framework, Dicken-Garcia 
proposes a three-phase 
outline of press develop- 
ment for the nineteenth 
century. In each phase, 
shifts in "role" are accom- 
panied by shifts in content 
and structure. In the first 
phase — to 1830 — the role 
was political, the content 
idea-centered, and the 
structure printer-domi- 
nated (presumably); in the 
second phase — 1830 to the 
Civil War — the role was 
informational, the content 
event-centered, and the 
structure editor-domi- 
nated; in the third phase — 
to 1900 — the role was busi- 
ness-centered, the content 
story-centered, and the 
structure journalist-cen- 
tered. While this sketch 
makes Dicken-Garcia' s 
outline seem too rigidly 

drawn, she is careful in the 
book not to overstate the 
divergences between 
phases, noting that they 
overlapped and that certain 
elements persisted — for in- 
stance, she correctly under- 
scores the persistence of 
partisanism throughout 
the nineteenth century. 

Dicken-Garcia empha- 
sizes cultural causality, but 
in a very broad sense. 
Take, for instance, her dis- 
cussion of the journalistic 
changes of the Civil War 
era, which featured the 
disruption of partisanism, 
the formation of a news 
habit among a reading 
public, the rise of report- 
ing as an occupation, and 
the rise of wire reporting, 
along with the develop- 
ment of at least one new 
style of reporting, the in- 
verted pyramid. These 
changes, while suggested 
by "culture," were 
prompted by exigency. 

The conceptual frame- 
work and historical outline 
occupy the book's first 
hundred pages. The real 
heart of Dicken-Garcia' s 
research is in chapters 4 
through 7, where she 
delves into primary mate- 
rial from journalists and 
critics. The best material is 
from the post-Civil War 
years, when criticism be- 
came more abundant and 
more specific as newspa- 
pers became more compli- 
cated and less well under- 
stood by the public. The 
themes emphasized in this 
criticism included some 
that are strikingly mod- 
ern — the profit motive and 
reliance on advertising; 
trivialization; invasion of 
privacy; "personal" jour- 

nalism; and sensational- 
ism, a word she finds first 
used in 1869. The agreed- 
upon standard that 
emerged from all of this 
was responsibility. (Also 
interesting in this chapter 
were early calls for jour- 
nalism education.) 

Any reader of a book 
with this scope will find 
things with which to be 
dissatisfied. I was dis- 
turbed by several features. 
First was an assumption of 
homogeneity on several 
levels. Dicken-Garcia talks 
about a homogeneous 
press, public, and society, 
not allowing for classes of 
newspapers, segmented 
audiences, and a society 
divided by class, race, re- 
gion, gender, religion, and 
ethnicity. For instance, her 
sample of newspapers in 
chapter 3 is limited to pa- 
pers with at least a ten- 
year record of continuous 
publication or a position 
among the top-ten circula- 
tion leaders. She acknowl- 
edges that this will intro- 
duce a bias toward eastern 
urban papers, and in fact 
for 1800-10, one of her 
sample periods, she uses 
almost exclusively New 
England Federalist papers. 
She implies that these pa- 
pers represent "the press," 
but begs the question 
whether "the press" was 
an actual entity (though 
elsewhere she notes that 
the press was not fully an 
institution until the latter 
nineteenth century). I have 
argued elsewhere that the 
newspaper history of the 
nineteenth century makes 
more sense if one divides 
the press into classes of 
newspapers with different 

Book Reviews 


values, functions, struc- 
tures, and audiences. 
Dicken-Garcia divides the 
press by period, but balks 
at divisions within periods. 

A second troubling ab- 
sence involves ideology. 
Dicken-Garcia declines to 
use the word ideology, per- 
haps because it is so heav- 
ily freighted. But by plac- 
ing "standards" on the 
cusp of practices and val- 
ues she inevitably impli- 
cates ideologies. As a result 
of her reluctance to talk 
about ideologies, she tends 
to list values in criticism 
rather than presenting 
them as features of a co- 
herent whole. Also missing 
is ideology's companion, 
"Utopia." Surprisingly, 
there is little in the book 
about visions of an ideal 

I was troubled by the ab- 
sence of some of the more 
familiar historical debates 
on specific ideologies — 
Revolutionary republican- 
ism, artisanal republican- 
ism. Free Labor, and the 
like, some of which bear 
directly on issues that 
Dicken-Garcia introduces. 
For instance, she quotes 
considerable material from 
the Federalist press that 
indicates an absolute intol- 
erance of political opposi- 
tion but attributes it to 
"inexperience," an odd as- 
sertion, since she argues 
that partisanism had been 
a constant habit of U.S. 
newspapers since the 
Stamp Act Crisis in 1765. 
A better explanation can 
be made by referring to 
underlying political ideo- 
logical structures, specifi- 
cally the persistence of 
Revolutionary republican- 

ism and a congruent ideol- 
ogy of impartiality (which 
is dealt with much later, in 
chapter 4, where it is 
treated as an eighteenth- 
century aberration). 

Perhaps it is reluctance to 
tread in the minefield of 
ideology that leads 
Dicken-Garcia to limit her 
sources of press criticism 
to published books and 
magazine articles, a third 
serious deficiency. Ex- 
cluded from discussion 
were private journals and 
correspondence, public 
addresses, courtroom ar- 
guments, legislative de- 
bates, and material on re- 
lated issues, like treatises 
on politics. Neglected are 
public figures like Thomas 
Jefferson, commentators 
like Frances Trollope and 
Alexis de Tocqueville, 
movements like anti-ma- 
sonry and abolitionism, 
and reformers and radicals 
like Josiah Warren, to 
mention a few from just 
the early part of the cen- 
tury. Indeed, so restricted 
is the pool of press criti- 
cism that Dicken-Garcia 
cites only half a dozen 
pieces from critics before 

Also disturbing, fourth, 
is the author's refused to 
ask "who the critics were." 
Surely the situation and 
agenda of the author are 
crucial items in the inter- 
pretation of any text of 
press criticism. 

Journalistic Standards is a 
flawed text, then, but it 
addresses crucial concerns 
and draws on important 
and often ignored sources. 
It will, one hopes, draw at- 
tention to the significance 
of history in contemporary 

discussions of journalism 
ethics and practices. 

. . . John Nerone 
University of Illinois 

By Richard Labunski. 
• Transaction Publishers 
•1989,327 pp. 
•$29.95, Cloth; $18.95, Paper 

illustrates quite clearly, li- 
bel law has become such a 
morass that litigating a li- 
bel case is "sheer madness" 
for everyone involved. Un- 
fortunately, however. Libel 
and the First Amendment of- 
fers little guidance for stu- 
dents and practitioners of 
the law trying to make 
sense of that morass. 

This book is well-written, 
and it offers both an inter- 
esting discussion of the 
theoretical foundations for 
the actual malice defense 
in libel law and a useful 
summary of possible solu- 
tions to the current prob- 
lem of libel law. However, 
it proffers unsupported 
and erroneous assump- 
tions about the media and 
the courts and makes an 
ill<onceived and uncon- 
vincing effort to establish 
broadcasting as a unique 
area of libel law. 

The best part of this 
book, and it's a part worth 
reading, is its discussion of 
the theoretical foundations 
for the actual malice de- 


AJ /Summer 1990 

fense against libel, created 
by the U.S. Supreme Court 
in New York Times v. 
Sullivan in 1964. Labunski 
argues persuasively that 
the Court set out to protect 
the "uninhibited, robust, 
and wide-open" discus- 
sion of public issues but 
strayed from that course to 
instead protect reporting 
about public people. That 
switch, he argues, means 
that the media today have 
greater constitutional pro- 
tection when writing 
about the private lives of 
public people than they do 
when writing about pri- 
vate people who uninten- 
tionally become involved 
in public controversies. 
Therefore, he concludes, 
neither the news reporting 
on public issues nor public 
individuals' reputations 
are adequately protected. 
Labunski' s explanations 
for why that it is so are 
poorly substantiated and 
sometimes wrong, how- 
ever. For example, 
throughout his book, which 
first appeared in hardcover 
in 1987, Labunski portrays 
the U.S. Supreme Court as 
demonstrating "an un- 
ashamed hostility to the 
First Amendment claims 
of journalists." Labunski is 
particularly harsh in his 
evaluation of the Burger 
Court, which he says gave 
those who cared about the 
First Amendment "little 
they could feel positive 
about." Such evaluations 
of the Burger Court were 
common during the mid- 
1970s. By the end of the 
decade, however, most 
journalists and legal schol- 
ars had concluded that the 
Burger Court was not, in 

fact, hostile to the First 
Amendment. Although the 
Burger Court was not re- 
ceptive to media requests 
for expanded First 
Amendment rights in ar- 
eas such as the protection 
of confidential sources and 
protection against news- 
room searches, the Court's 
record clearly supports the 
conclusion that it did not 
seriously undermine the 
First Amendment protec- 
tions established by the 
Warren Court a decade 
earlier. Labunski is consid- 
erably more convincing 
when he argues that the 
current libel law fails to 
protect the media ade- 
quately in part because it 
is too complicated for 
lower court judges and ju- 
ries to understand; they 
therefore frequently fail to 
to apply the actual malice 
test as the Supreme Court 
intended. However, he 
also expresses a distrust of 
the motives of the state 
and lower federal courts 
that lacks support. 

Another valuable part of 
Libel and the First Amend- 
ment is Labunski's sum- 
mary of possible solutions 
to the current problems of 
libel law. While nothing 
on the list is new, this 
compilation is worth a 
look. He suggests, for ex- 
ample, the use of legisla- 
tive remedies like retrac- 
tion statutes and statutes 
of limitations and the use 
of judicial controls over 
the unwieldy discovery 
process. The lattenconsi- 
tutes a tremendous burden 
on libel defendants. 

A major premise of this 
book, and its most obvious 
flaw, is Labunski's conten- 

tion that broadcasting 
presents different libel 
problems than the print 
media and that broadcast- 
ing therefore is "particu- 
larly vulnerable to libel 
suits." Labunski's lengthy 
discussion of this point 
merely detracts from his 
book because the argu- 
ments are largely anecdo- 
tal and, even allowing for 
that, unconvincing. For 
example, Labunski sug- 
gests that a broadcast re- 
porter might be more 
interested in obtaining an 
investigative story to in- 
clude on his audition tape 
than in exposing corrup- 
tion. Therefore, Labunski 
says, the broadcast re- 
porter may not care 
whether his employer is 
sued for libel as a result of 
his work. According to 
Labunski, broadcast re- 
porters are a nomadic lot 
likely to move on before 
the case gets to court. No 
doubt that scenario has 
been played out by some- 
one, somewhere, some- 
time. But it's not typical of 
broadcast journalists and 
certainly does not distin- 
guish broadcast journalists 
from print reporters. The 
latter have their own pro- 
fessional ambitions and 
ethical lapses. Also, the 
scenario has no clear con- 
nection to the legal issues 
raised in the book or the 
case law, which, in fact, 
suggests that broadcasting 
presents few unique libel 

Labunski's lengthy dis- 
cussion of broadcasting 
also adds to the books or- 
ganizational problems. 
Labunski waits far too 
long — for more than a 

Book Reviews 


hundred pages — before 
letting the reader know 
where the book is headed 
and what arguments 
are being made. 

The strength of this book 
is its core, the discussion 
of the theoretical and prac- 
tical rationales for the crea- 
tion and expansion of the 
actual malice defense 
against libel suits. The 
weakness of this book is 
that Labunski wanders too 
far from that core. 

. . . Cathy Packer 
University of North Carolina 


By Anton Kaes. 

• Harvard University Press 
•1989,272 pp. 

• $25. Cloth 

is a significant work of 
scholarship in film history 
that might be viewed as a 
"sequel" to Siegfried 
Kracauer's 1947 work. 
From Caligari to Hitler: A 
Psychological History of the 
German Film. While 
Kracauer studied aspects 
of German film prior to 
World War II, Kaes con- 
centrates on post-war Ger- 
man cinema. Kracauer's 
work, for all its shortcom- 
ings, remains the most fa- 
miliar text documenting 
the political, social, and 
cultural changes in Ger- 
many leading to the estab- 
lishment of a Nazi state as 
reflected in German film. 
The present work exam- 
ines the effects of the 

World War II experience 
of Germany on post-war 
German filmmaking. 

Kaes specifically ad- 
dresses the problems faced 
by German filmmakers in 
their attempts to come to 
grips with residual guilt 
and fear stemming from 
the experience of Hitler 
and the holocaust. This 
guilt and fear, as Kaes 
points out, has been 
largely hidden within 
German society, but has 
tended to result in self-im- 
posed repression of film 
content until this collective 
"amnesia" was challenged 
in the New German Cin- 
ema in the 1970s. The ma- 
jority of Kaes's text con- 
sists of analysis of five im- 
portant German films in 
this vein, produced in the 
1970s and 1980s. These are 
Hans Jurgen Syberberg's 
Hitler, a Film from Germany 
(1977), Rainer Werner 
Fassbinder's The Marriage 
of Maria Braun (1978), 
Alexander Kluge's The Pa- 
triot (1979),Helma Sanders- 
Brahms's Germany, Pale 
Mother (1980), and Edgar 
Reitz's Heimat (1984). 
These are films that have 
"challenged the existing 
amnesia as well as the re- 
pression of the past." 

Discussion of these films 
is preceded by a synopsis 
of German film history af- 
ter the war. The author 
identifies several periods 
of post-war German film: 
the period of denazifica- 
tion immediately after the 
war, which was followed 
by an attempt to forget the 
past during the Cold War, 
the Young German Film 
movement of the 1960s, 
which challenged Cold 

War assumptions about 
film content, and finally 
the New German Cinema, 
which arose in the mid- 
1970s. The response of the 
German people to frank 
filmic treatment of the 
Nazi era is further deline- 
ated by analysis of the 
German television pre- 
miere of the American 
mini-series "Holocaust" 
in 1979. This historical 
discussion is interestingly 
written and well-re- 

Kaes's account is not per- 
fect, however. As an Eng- 
lish adaptation of a Ger- 
man book — Deutschland- 
bilder: Die Wiederkehr der 
Geschichte als Film — From 
Hitler to Heimat sometimes 
refers to aspects of German 
culture and history that 
may be unfamiliar to the 
average non-German 
reader. Further, the book is 
sometimes a bit disjointed. 
The author occasionally in- 
terjects discussions that, 
although well-developed 
and interesting, are quite 

The reader may be disap- 
pointed that few photo- 
graphs from the films dis- 
cussed are provided: only 
one per chapter, each from 
a different film. On the 
positive side, however, an 
extensive note section 
guides the reader to mate- 
rials for further study. The 
author also suggests 
sources for obtaining cop- 
ies of the major films dis- 

From Hitler to Heimat will 
prove to be a useful ad- 
junct to German cinema 
studies as an able analysis 
of treatment of the Ger- 
man World War II experi- 


AJ /Summer 1990 

ence within post-war Ger- 
man film. 

. . . Steven Phipps 

Indiana-Purdue University 

at Fort Wayne 


By Robert Justin Goldstein. 

• St. Martin's Press 
•1989.256 pp. 

• $35, Cloth 

ONE OF THE challenges 
of teaching journalism his- 
tory these days is that the 
units in our courses keep 
expanding. In his new 
book. Political Censorship of 
the Arts and the Press in 
Nineteenth-Century Europe, 
Robert Justin Goldstein 
has given a healthy shove 
to the boundaries of our 
unit on government con- 
trols. First he takes us be- 
yond our parochial con- 
centration on events in the 
United States and Fredrick 
Siebert's England — a jour- 
ney, I would argue, we are 
going to have to make 
more and more frequently 
if we are to present a co- 
herent picture of the his- 
tory of journalism. Then 
Goldstein demands that 
we open our ears to the 
cries of non-journalists — 
the caricaturists, play- 
wrights, librettists, and 
filmmakers who also 
served in the struggle for 
freedom of expression. 

The book emphasizes an 
important point: the extent 
to which censorship was 
motivated by fear of the 

masses and the extent to 
which its lifting in nine- 
teenth-century Europe 
came after the ruling 
classes were satisfied that 
the means of information 
would be in safely middle- 
class hands. Otherwise 
Goldstein, a professor of 
political science at 
Oakland University, tends 
to skimp on the analysis. 
His strength is in his com- 
pilations of anecdotes and 
quotations. He has 
scoured all the right 
sources on nineteenth-cen- 
tury European newspapers 
for the most telling and 
lively material on press 
controls. The Spanish dic- 
tator General Ramon 
Narvaez is quoted, for ex- 
ample, suggesting that "it 
is not enough to confiscate 
papers; to finish with bad 
newspapers you must kill 
all the journalists." Karl 
Marx makes the now 
ironic argument that "a 
free press is the omnipres- 
ent open eye of the spirit 
of the people." 

However, the most origi- 
nal chapters of Goldstein's 
book, at least from the per- 
spective of a journalism 
historian, are his discus- 
sions of political controls 
on drawings, plays, operas 
and films. In most Euro- 
pean countries, censorship 
of these forms of commu- 
nication — more visual and 
therefore perhaps more ac- 
cessible to the unedu- 
cated — long outlived prior 
restraints on newspapers. 
"Caricatures," Goldstein 
writes, "were subjected to 
prior censorship for all or 
part of the nineteenth cen- 
tury in every major Euro- 
pean country except Brit- 

ain." A censor forced one 
Russian playwright to 
change almost the entire 
plot of a play because, 
among other transgres- 
sions, it included "inde- 
cent criticism of costume 
balls." Mozart's The Magic 
Flute was banned in Aus- 
tria "on the grounds that 
its favorable depiction of a 
noble brotherhood based 
on virtue rather than birth 
amounted to revolutionary 
propaganda." French films 
were restricted from men- 
tioning the Dreyfus affair 
from 1899 to 1950. 

In many ways this cen- 
sorship failed. Laws were 
evaded by the appoint- 
ment of special editors 
whose sole duty was to sit 
out jail terms, by renaming 
banned newspapers 
{Pravda appeared under 
eight different names in 
Russia before 1914), and 
by the use of "Aesopian 
language." (A discussion 
of a classroom with all the 
windows shut might, for 
example, serve as a sly 
way of attacking the politi- 
cal situation in Russia in 
1901.) Ideas and opinions 
managed to spread. Old 
regimes eventually 

On the other hand, many 
voices were stilled, many 
messages tempered. 
"What matters is not what 
the censor does to what I 
have written," said Tolstoy, 
"but to what I might have 
written." The cost may 
have been artistic as much 
as political. "Censorship 
controls," Goldstein ar- 
gues, "largely explain the 
general lack of realistic 
drama and opera in nine- 
teenth-century Europe, as 

Book Reviews 


well as the similarly ano- 
dyne quality of most 
works of journalism and 
caricature before 1870." As 
late as 1937 in Britain, the 
president of the Board of 
Film Censors could say, 
"We may take pride in ob- 
serving that there is not a 
single film showing in 
London today which deals 
with any of the burning 
questions of the day." 

Despite recent changes in 
the world, our unit on 
government controls re- 
tains its relevance. The 
battle for free discussion of 
flammable question has 
not entirely ended — not in 
Eastern Europe, not in 
Britain, not in the America 
of Ronald Reagan and 
George Bush. And it is 
interesting that this book 
was printed for St. Mar- 
tin's Press in, of all places, 
the People's Republic of 

. . . Mitchell Stephens 
New York University 


By Ken Zumwalt. 
• Eakin Press 
•1989,295 pp. 
•$16.95, Cloth 

professional military are 
natural opponents, even 
when both are run by 
people born in the land of 
the free and the home of 
the brave. This history of 
the Stars and Stripes in 
World War II and after is 
thus a story of recurrent 
conflict between news 

people and military offi- 
cers who were used to tell- 
ing people what to do, not 
to reading "bad" news 
written by mere corporals 
and privates. 

Press freedom is only 
one aspect of Zumwalt's 
entertaining history of the 
reporting, writing, and 
production of this famous 
newspaper in its many dif- 
ferent editions. His ac- 
count is not a dry, institu- 
tional outline, replete with 
statistics, but for the most 
part a collection of stories 
that are sometimes comic, 
sometimes sad, and some- 
times even heroic. 

Zumwalt is probably bet- 
ter qualified to tell this tale 
than anyone, for he served 
on various editions of the 
Stars and Stripes from 1944 
to 1955 and was the man- 
aging editor of several edi- 
tions of the paper. Thus 
many of his anecdotes are 
of events experienced first 
hand or told him by people 
he knew rather than culled 
from old memoirs. 

Zumwalt served only on 
European editions, and 
this book is thereby fo- 
cused on the Stars and 
Stripes in the European 
theater, which is where the 
paper flourished best, any- 
way. Its counterpart in the 
Pacific, the Daily Pacifican, 
suffered the fate that al- 
ways hangs over a news- 
paper whose staff mem- 
bers are under military 
discipline. Despite the 
support of the army's 
chief. General George C. 
Marshall, for the concept 
of press freedom, the army 
fired its entire twenty-two- 
man staff, including its of- 
ficer in charge, after accus- 

ing it of distorting the 
news, and transferred 
them into regular infantry 
units. The young lieuten- 
ant, George W. Cornell, 
survived, joined the Asso- 
ciated Press after the war, 
and became, in time, the 
AP's much-honored reli- 
gion writer. 

Cornell's name is only 
one of a long list of people 
who went from the Stars 
and Stripes to eminent po- 
sitions in American jour- 
nalism. Perhaps no one 
quite matched the distinc- 
tions of a Stripes editor 
ft-om World War I, Harold 
Ross, the founding editor 
of the New Yorker maga- 
zine, but World War II and 
the years beyond supplied 
cartoonist Bill Mauldin, 
who has won two Pulitzer 
Prizes, television commen- 
tator Andy Rooney, news- 
paper editor and publisher 
Creed Black, Otto Friedrich 
of Time, William R. Frye of 
the Christian Science Moni- 
tor, Louis Rukeyser of Wa/Z 
Street YJeek, and Peter 
Lisagore of television 
news — to select only a few 
of the many hundreds of 
names. Zumwalt supplies 
them all, incidentally, in a 
handy appendix. 

There are some minor 
flaws. The famous German 
bomber, the JU-88, is iden- 
tified as a fighter, and 
Zumwalt unaccountably 
uses an expression that 
was a redundant no-no 
among seasoned soldiers: 
"G.I. Issue." For the unini- 
tiated, that would mean 
"Government Issue Issue." 

On a larger scale, it is 
important to remember 
that the book is an anecdo- 
tal rather than scholarly 


AJ /Summer 1990 

treatment of its subject. 
Therefore it would be wise 
to suspect that some of the 
strange and amusing inci- 
dents that its author recon- 
structs from someone 
else's accounts may be 
subject to the "improving" 
work of distant memory. 
Nevertheless, the Stars and 
Stripes is a helpful and of- 
ten diverting contribution 
to the history of a contra- 
dictory time — when a sec- 
tion of the press often had 
to struggle to preserve its 
freedom from some of the 
leaders in the military 
struggle against totalitari- 
anism. As Pogo put it, 
"We have met the enemy, 
and they is us." 

. . . Edward A. Nicker son 
University of Delaware 


By Donald R. Browne. 

• Iowa State University Press 
•1989,447 pp. 

• $39.95. Cloth 

THESE ARE fascinating 
times for anyone wishing 
to speculate on the effects 
of political change on 
international broadcasting. 
For this reason alone. Com- 
paring Broadcast Systems 
provides an excellent re- 
view of developments for 
the historical explorer — a 
comparative point of de- 
parture for future travels 
and a superior job of sum- 
marizing the trek to date. 
And who better to serve as 
guide? Don Browne is ac- 

knowledged by many as 
the "Indiana Jones" of in- 
ternational broadcasting 
scholarship. More than 
one of us, in travels 
abroad, has learned that 
Dr. Browne has just visited 
this or that broadcast facil- 
ity, just interviewed the 
staff, and investigated cur- 
rent policies and attitudes. 
This volume adds to the 
author's extensive field ef- 
forts since it draws on per- 
sonal contacts and inter- 
views in a variety of locales, 
as well as his extensive 
earlier published research. 
The book was written to 
aid understanding of 
broadcasting by consider- 
ing five fundamental fac- 
tors and their manner of 
influence in the experience 
of six nations. The factors — 
geography, demography/ 
linguistics, economy, cul- 
ture, and politics — interact 
in varying degrees, and 
Browne catalogues the na- 
ture of each of the com- 
mon denominators in a 
prelude to dealing with 
each nation. Under "geog- 
raphy," for example, he 
considers the role of popu- 
lation distribution and lo- 
cation, plus the attitudes 
held concerning national 
unity versus regional iden- 
tity among members of the 
population. Economic fac- 
tors and industrialization 
are considered within the 
context of a field requiring 
some degree of expense. 
Browne describes how 
economic philosophy and 
levels of prosperity have 
helped to dictate progress, 
but, at the same time, he 
points out that some poor 
nations have achieved a 
moderate level of success. 

Browne examines the ef- 
fects of the workplace and 
offers insight on the role 
culture and cultural 
groups play in forming a 
"national character" 
through various systems 
of broadcasting. In the first 
country offered for exami- 
nation, he describes how 
French preoccupation with 
"proper" language and the 
promotion of French cul- 
ture colors all else done in 
that system. Dutch broad- 
casting maintains strong 
ties to certain "pillar" 
groups, while German 
television standards are 
currently coming under 
fire because of their sex 
role stereotyping — for in- 
stance, presenting a view 
of housewives as always 
bending over backwards 
to please their grumpy 
husbands. Soviet enter- 
tainment programming 
operates, of course, under 
different ideological stan- 
dards, with a recurring 
emphasis on the progres- 
sive nature of socialism 
and the need to present 
positive role models or 
"heroes" reflecting that 
philosophy. Japanese pro- 
gramming is remarkably 
similar to the U.S.'s except 
in broadcast journalism, in 
which it tends to shy away 
from confrontation. 

In a concluding section 
Browne laments the worri- 
some prospect that some 
elements of the public in 
many countries, especially 
the poor segments of soci- 
ety, might be deprived of 
the material they previ- 
ously enjoyed. The author 
ends with "A Final Word 
on Behalf of History," in 
which he points to a num- 

Book Reviews 


ber of examples showing 
that the history of broad- 
casting is Ukely to repeat 
itself in many ways. For 
this reason alone, this 
book is instructive. 

. . . Michael D. Murray 
Univ. of Missouri-St Louis 


By Joyce Milton. 

• Harper and Row 
•1989,412 pp. 

• $22.95, Cloth 

that late nineteenth-cen- 
tury journalistic Zeitgeist, 
periodically fascinates his- 
torians like a comer traffic 
accident mesmerizes 
school children on sum- 
mer vacation. Joyce 
Milton's The Yellow Kids 
provides a delightful, in- 
formative account of jour- 
nalistic bravado and 
skulduggery in the hal- 
cyon days of Hearst and 
Pulitzer. In the center ring, 
of course, resides the tragi- 
comedy that posed as his- 
tory: the Spanish-Ameri- 
can War, precipitated by 
the sinking of the Maine. 

Co-author of the contro- 
versial 1983 book The 
Rosenberg File: A Search for 
the Truth, Milton begins by 
dusting off the old chest- 
nut (popularized by Orson 
Welles in Citizen Kane), 
that William Randolph 
Hearst ordered the Span- 
ish-American War C.O.D.: 
"Please remain. You fur- 
nish the pictures, and I'll 

furnish the war." Milton 
notes dutifully that the pu- 
tative cable to Richard 
Harding Davis and 
Frederic Remington is not 
susceptible to documen- 
tary proof. 

The author then reprises 
the birth of "the journal- 
ism that acts" as the spiri- 
tual descendent of the 
"Yellow Kid," a street-ur- 
chin character in the popu- 
lar cartoon "Hogan's Al- 
ley." The "yellow kids" 
who worked for Pulitzer's 
New York World and 
Hearst's New York Journal 
were, by and large, the 
hustling, hard-drinking 
bravura figures that some 
correspondents only posed 
as in later wars. Richard 
Harding Davis, Murat 
Halstead, Sylvester 
(Harry) Scovel, George 
Rea, Stephen Crane, Cora 
Taylor, James Creelman, 
Nellie Bly, Arthur Brisbane, 
and Clarke Musgrave 
emerge as the mostly ag- 
nostic prodigal sons of 
staid Protestant ministers. 

Milton's book is well re- 
searched (she relies on the 
papers of a half dozen li- 
braries and archives) and 
is written with the wit, sce- 
nic construction, and pac- 
ing of an Agatha Christie 
or Dorothy Sayers mys- 
tery. The 1890s were a pe- 
riod of tremendous change 
in the newspaper industry. 
Immigrant classes flooded 
eastern seaboard cities and 
a new, less complex, more 
sensational newspaper fol- 
lowed. Rising expenses 
combined with new tech- 
nologies only fueled the 
competition for tens of 
thousands of new readers. 
Indeed, a surge of four 

hundred thousand in cir- 
culation in one week and 
forty editions per day 
were not unknown. 

Milton explains that 
whether or not the war 
was "created" is likely be- 
side the point since once 
underway it fit the journal- 
istic yellow age like a kid- 
skin glove does a hand. In 
an age when reporters in- 
filtrated burglary rings, 
and exposed corruption 
and cruelty in prisons and 
mental institutions, the 
war provided an exotic lo- 
cale for an opera bouffe 
military production. While 
yellow reporters some- 
times were stock comme- 
dia dell'arte figures in a 
low vaudeville, they also 
faced great danger, con- 
stant deadlines, disease, 
and famine. (Milton notes 
the thankless espionage 
work performed by corre- 
spondents for the U.S. 

Although The Yellow Kids 
introduces a cast of at least 
two or three score, Milton 
concentrates on the careers 
of Pulitzer, Hearst, Davis, 
Brisbane, Crane, and Cora 
Taylor, Crane's lover and a 
retired brothel proprietor 
who later became a pio- 
neering war correspon- 
dent). However, the au- 
thor casts the biggest spot- 
light on little-known 
Harry Scovel, a roistering 
engineer turned World re- 
porter who may or may 
not have slapped the face 
of U.S. Fifth Army Gen. 
William R. Shaffer during 
a transfer-of-power cere- 
mony in Santiago after the 

The Yellow Kids is not air- 
tight scholarship. Milton 


AJ/Summer 1990 

sometimes expands char- 
acters when she should 
contract them, and blurs 
some themes and issues 
when she should focus 
them. For instance, she ne- 
glects to place the yellow 
war correspondents in any 
firm historical context; the 
impact that Civil War re- 
porting had on the report- 
ers covering the Spanish- 
American War is not dis- 
cussed. Too, Milton only 
partially explores the 
McKinley administration's 
efforts to ensure patriotic 
reporting of the war and, 
conceptually, she is vague 
on the larger meaning of 
the experiences she relates. 

If a little weak in focus 
and theoretical develop- 
ment. The Yellow Kids is 
nonetheless essential read- 
ing for press scholars and 
historians. Although tar- 
geted at a diverse audi- 
ence, academicians will 
find the book well indexed 
with adequate reference 
notes and a good bibliog- 

. . . John F. Neville 
University of Minnesota 


By Lawrence W. Levine. 

• Harvard University Press 
•1988.306 pp. 

• $25, Cloth 

TWO ROGUES, passing 
themselves off to Huck 
Finn as a duke and a king, 
raise money by perform- 
ing Shakespearean scenes 

in Mark Twain's small 
Mississippi River towns. 
Both the readers of The Ad- 
ventures of Huckleberry Finn 
and the fictional viewers 
of the ruffians' perform- 
ances recognized 
Shakespearean references 
and analogies. Nineteenth 
century American per- 
formers widely quoted 
from Shakespeare's work, 
expecting their audiences 
to be familiar with the 
bard's plays, which were 
widely quoted and paro- 

With the Huck Finn ex- 
ample, Lawrence W. 
Levine begins his opening 
essay on the nineteenth 
century division of Ameri- 
can culture into high and 
low culture. Shakespeare's 
plays, Levine writes, "had 
meaning to a nation that 
placed the individual at 
the center of the universe 
and personalized the large 
questions of the day." 

While Shakespeare blos- 
somed in theaters from 
New England to the small- 
est frontier town, the bard's 
popularity provided no as- 
surance of reverence. Such 
parodies as "Milius 
Sneezer," "Roamy-E-Owe 
and Julie-Ate," "Hamlet 
and Egglet," as well as se- 
rious Shakespearean pro- 
ductions, often shared the 
stage with magicians, 
dancers, singers, acrobats, 
minstrels, and comics. By 
the end of the century, 
however, an artificial divi- 
sion removed Shakespeare 
from everyday discussion 
to the province of elites. 
Common folk were no 
longer expected to enjoy 
serious art. Levine's analy- 
sis of Shakespeare's transi- 

tion from popular to elite 
icon constitutes the first of 
three essays in this book. 

The second essay applies 
a similar analysis to opera 
and other music. While 
opera was accessible to 
large audiences through- 
out the century, popular 
performers could augment 
the original scores with 
patriotic tunes such as 
"Yankee Doodle" and 
"Hail Columbia." Simi- 
larly, art museums were 
eclectic, collecting the fin- 
est paintings as well as ar- 
tifacts of natural history. 
Levine's third essay em- 
ploys some social history. 
The separation of high and 
low art became so perva- 
sive that planners of Cen- 
tral Park even debated 
whether to allow a certain 
class of visitors out of fear 
that certain groups could 
not appreciate its beauty. 

Hierarchical categories 
applied to culture on the 
eve of the twentieth cen- 
tury came from racial and 
social distinctions. "'High- 
brow,' first used in the 
1880s to describe intellec- 
tual or aesthetic superior- 
ity, and lowbrow,' first 
used shortly after 1900 to 
mean someone or some- 
thing neither 'highly intel- 
lectual' nor 'aesthetically 
refined,' were derived 
from the phrenological 
terms 'highbrowed' and 
lowbrowed,' which were 
prominently featured in 
the nineteenth-century 
practice of determining ra- 
cial types and intelligence 
by measuring cranial 
shapes and capacities." In 
this Darwinian age, low 
brows were associated 
with apes, and the increas- 

Book Reviews 


ing size of one's brow indi- 
cated greater intelligence. 
Among racial groups, 
Caucasians had the high- 
est brows. 

In his prologue, Levine 
says he began raising 
questions about cultural 
hierarchy after hearing 
scholars of popular culture 
include disclaimers about 
how their subjects aren't 
serious artists. In his epi- 
logue, he sees "a growing 
cultural eclecticism and 
flexibility" that will again 
integrate the levels of art. 
For example, the same per- 
son can be interested in 
rock, classical, and 
rhythm-and-blues music. 

Levine's subject and the 
evidence are so broad that 
contrary evidence could be 
introduced for some issues 
and time periods. Levine 
helps such a case by lack- 
ing a clear chronology — 
evidence to support his 
argument about the early 
nineteenth century could 
come from the 1860s, for 
example. Nevertheless, his 
case about the emerging 
cultural hierarchy remains 
strongly buttressed. At the 
same time, Levine's analy- 
sis cries out for political 
and social perspectives. 
What economic, political, 
intellectual, social, and 
cultural forces contributed 
to this emerging hierar- 
chy? Although these ques- 
tions await subsequent 
analyses, Levine has pro- 
vided provocative ideas 
and a valuable place to 

. . .William E. Huntzicker 
University of Minnesota 


By Jaime Chamorro Cardenal. 

• Freedom House 
•1989,206 pp. 

• $22.95, Cloth; $9.95, Paper 


By Joshua Muravchik. 

• American Enterprise Insti- 
tute for Public Policy 
•1988,128 pp. 

•$21.75, Cloth; $9.75, Paper 

supposed to help us 
understand the role of the 
press during the Sandin- 
ista revolution. One glori- 
fies the efforts of the Nica- 
raguan newspaper. La 
Prensa and bitterly attacks 
the Sandinista program. 
The other is a scathing 
analysis of U.S. newspaper 

Jaime Chamorro Cardenal 
tells of the struggle by La 
Prensa editors to fight the 
brutality of the Somoza 
dictatorship and later the 
harassment of the Sandin- 
istas. Chamorro, the son of 
La Prensa' s founder and 
the brother of Pedro 
Jaoquin Chamorro, Jr. (as- 
sassinated by Somoza's 
agent thugs in 1978), has 
spent thirty years at the 
paper, including the last 
six as editor-in-chief. 

Chamorro contends that 
Nicaraguans suffered 
equally under Somoza's 
National Guard and the 
Sandinistas' political and 
military establishment. He 
fully condemns the Ortega 
brothers and their Nicara- 
guan allies, claiming they 
lied about their intention 
to establish democratic 

systems and stifled every 
attempt by La Prensa to 
expose their hypocrisy. 
Joshua Muravchik ana- 
lyzes Sandinista political 
motives and concludes 
that the bulk of the U.S. 
foreign press corps failed 
to report them impartially 
from July 1978 to July 1980. 
In other words, reporters 
were duped by Commu- 
nists who threatened our 
national security when 
they assumed power on 
19 July 1979. 

Muravchik, a resident 
scholar at the institute, is 
part of a network that in- 
cludes Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, 
Richard N. Perle, Ben J. 
Wattenberg, and others 
who frequently find the 
news media to be permis- 
sive when describing left- 
wing political movements. 

Much of Chamorro's 
book is an all-out effort to 
ridicule the Sandinistas, 
but one of its historical 
contributions is his view of 
why part of his family 
split from the Sandinista 
Front. This includes his 
sister-in-law Violeta, the 
new president of Nicara- 
gua. The other half of his 
family, those supporting 
the Sandinistas, would 
violently disagree with his 
disregard of their contri- 
butions and the effects of 
the U.S.-sponsored Contra 
war on Nicaraguan soci- 
ety. Nevertheless, he uses 
first-person references 
throughout to make a 
compelling argument to 
those unfamiliar with the 
history of U.S. involve- 
ment in the region. It 
should be added that 
Chamorro's critics have 
contended that he received 


AJ /Summer 1990 

assistance in preparing his 
manuscript from U.S. in- 
telligence agents. To date 
this has not been docu- 
mented, but the reader 
should be aware of the 

Muravchik's tidy wrap- 
up from the right wing 
contains many long quota- 
tions from news articles, 
editorials, and opinion 
pieces, which are valuable 
for anyone wishing to ana- 
lyze the performance of 
top foreign correspondents 
and commentators. In his 
interpretation of these se- 
lected quotes, he indicts 
some well-known report- 
ers and thinkers. Unlike 
Chamorro's book, this one 
is not indexed. 

Students examining me- 
dia coverage of the 
Sandinista years (1981 to 
present) obviously need to 
put books (and reviews) 
like these in context. The 
quality of La Prensa's jour- 
nalism has been evaluated 
most thoroughly in several 
publications by John S. 
Nichols of Pennsylvania 
State University, nation- 
ally recognized for his ex- 
pertise. Of importance 
here is how La Prensa be- 
came mythicized as a sym- 
bol of a free and impartial 
press while actually it was 
no less partisan than the 
newspapers and distorted 
or ignored the news with 
ease. The major mistake by 
those on either flank is to 
assume that the function 
of journalism is the same 
everywhere — and that a 
certain model must be fol- 

The key to understand- 
ing Nicaragua is to realize 

that many of the important 
personalities are related to 
each other or have known 
each other for years. This 
diminishes the spectacle of 
an East-West conflict and 
allows the uniqueness of 
the Nicaraguan revolution 
to emerge. Fierce feelings 
of nationalism and anti- 
imperialism are felt by 
most citizens — Chamorro 
makes this clear. Those 
North Americans who 
trumpeted the Contra 
cause were ignorant of 
this, or tried to hide it. 
Muravchik complains that 
U.S. correspondents over- 
rated the Sandinistas, fail- 
ing to understand that the 
"true nature" of "Sandin- 
ismo" (the spirit and goals 
of the revolution) was to 
create a Marxist-Leninist 
(Communist) state. 

Critics on the left pro- 
tested through the nine 
years of the Contra war 
that the same journalists 
and commentators did not 
seriously question the 
"true nature" of the U.S. 
agenda (to destroy the 
Sandinistas because their 
economic and political 
model might prove to be 
popular elsewhere in Cen- 
tral America). The critics 
say these journalists 
cheated the Nicaraguan 
government of hard- 
earned credit for creating 
significant social reforms, 
exercising moderation de- 
spite the CIA-sponsored 
atrocities and winning a 
battle in the World Court 
against the Reagan Ad- 
ministration. Apparently 
the journalists pleased no 
one, not necessarily a good 

In order to judge the 

quality and fairness of 
coverage, the following 
publications might be 
helpful. My contention is 
that it was easy in the 
1980s to get the idea some- 
how (television news, 
Ronald Reagan, ill-in- 
formed friends) that the 
Sandinistas were cold- 
blooded. Red Commtmists 
bent on the conquest of 
Central America. It was 
more difficult to learn of 
the odd mixture of Ca- 
tholicism, socialism and 
capitalism that makes up 
the exotic drink "Sandin- 
ismo." Every stir of the 
straw produces a different, 
unpredictable taste but it's 
hardly fatal to the U.S. sys- 
tem. One thing is for cer- 
tain: Ortega's Nicaragua 
was not intended to be a 
mirror of Castro's Cuba. 
Once the lies are dis- 
carded, the press analysis 
can begin. 

A mix of references then: 
— Nicaragua v. USA, the 27 
June 1986 judgment of the 
World Court — ^the Interna- 
tional Court of Justice in 
the Hague — details the 
military and paramilitary 
activities in and against 
Nicaragua. The U.S. was 
found in breach of interna- 
tional law, violating the 
sovereignty of Nicaragua 
by armed attacks and 
other actions designed to 
coerce and intimidate the 

— Nicaragua: Revolution in 
the Family, by Shirley 
Christian (Random House, 
1985). Christian takes the 
reader from the fall of 
Somoza to the 1984 elec- 
tions. Formerly a reporter 
with the Miami Herald and 
later the New York Times, 

Book Reviews 


Christian is extremely 
critical of the Sandinistas. 
Her book contains fasci- 
nating descriptions of the 
Sandinista takeover and is 
an excellent source for ba- 
sic information about the 
key players even if one 
disagrees with its tone and 
— Nicaragua Divided: La 
Prensa and the Chamorro 
Legacy, by Patricia Taylor 
Edmisten (University of 
West Rorida Press, 199C). 
The best treatment of 
Pedro Joaquin Chamorro's 
lifelong battle against the 
Somozas, his relationships 
with family members, and 
his newspaper philosophy. 
Well balanced when deal- 
ing with the Sandinistas 
and the effects of the U.S.- 
sponsored Contra war. 
Based on intimate inter- 
views with Chamorro fam- 
ily members. 
— At War in Nicaragua, by 
E. Bradford Bums (Harper 
and Row, 1987). Burns, a 
UCLA Latin American 
Studies professor, charts 
the U.S. obsession with 
Nicaragua across fourteen 
or more invasions and the 
Contra War. 

— On Trial: Reagan 's YJar 
Against Nicaragua, edited 
by Merlene Dixon (Synthe- 
sis Press, 1985). Dixon's 
book reprints testimony 
given at the Permanent 
People's Tribunal in Brus- 
sels in 1984, including long 
personal statements from 
Nicaraguans and observ- 
ers. Gives insight not 
found in newspapers. 
— VJar and Peace in Central 
America, by Frank McNeil 
(Charles Scribner's Sons, 
1988). The former U.S. 
Ambassador to Costa Rica 

offers a history of the area 
and a guide to the U.S. 
search for a Central 
American policy. This is 
also a personal account of 
how the Iran/Contra scan- 
dal unfolded, from the 
Costa Rican angle, includ- 
ing U.S. efforts to develop 
a "southern front" in Costa 
Rica against the Sandinis- 
tas. The full story of gun- 
running, drug shipments 
and the LaPenca bombing 
(the 1984 killing of several 
journalists) remains to be 
told, however. 

Warning: if using the 
Chamorro and Muravchik 
books for reference, use 
them carefully and com- 
bine with other sources. 
Their propaganda quotient 
is high. 

. . . Michael Emery 

California State University, 


By Arlow W. Anderson. 

• The Balch Institute Press, 
Associated University Presses 
•1989,272 pp. 

• $38.50, Cloth 

American press was a 
public forum for the eight 
hundred thousand Norwe- 
gians who settled in the 
United States from mid- 
nineteenth century on- 
ward. About five hundred 
different newspaper titles 
appeared during the era 

of peak immigration, 
1877-1906, but most died 
quickly. The average life 
span was ten years. A few 
became important voices 
in their community, at- 
tracted significant reader- 
ship, and experienced long 
lives until the tide of im- 
migration slowed in the 
1920s and English-speaking 
descend ents began to out- 
number the foreign born. 

Arlow W. Anderson has 
made the Norwegian- 
American press and poli- 
tics his life work. Now as 
emeritus professor of his- 
tory from the University of 
Wisconsin at Oshkosh, he 
has published his second 
history of this press. His 
first. The Immigrant Takes 
His Stand (Norwegian- 
American Historical Asso- 
ciation, 1953), covered the 
period from 1847 to 1872. 

The new book. Rough 
Road to Glory, covers a con- 
tentious era in American 
life, as Anderson observes, 
but these immigrant edi- 
tors held fast to their belief 
in the potential success of 
the American democratic 
"experiment." They at- 
tempted to elevate their 
readers' thoughts, to en- 
lighten and stimulate po- 
litical action and concerns. 

Norwegians and their 
newspapers in America 
favored the Republican 
party, says Anderson, but 
they did endorse some 
third-party candidates, 
and editorial opinion was 
far from monolithic. As 
Anderson shows in his 
discussions of political 
campaigns, international 
affairs, economic and trade 
issues, and reform legisla- 
tion, the Norwegian- 


AJ /Summer 1990_ 

American opinion drawn 
from about thirty newspa- 
pers ranged from tradi- 
tional Republicanism to 
socialism and included 
views of Democrats, the 
Farmer-Labor party, and 
Progressives as well as 
special interests on tem- 
perance and Norwegian 
cultural preservation. 
There was general enthusi- 
asm for Norwegian inde- 
pendence from Sweden in 
1905, but differing views 
on the form of government 
preferred. There was gen- 
eral support for temper- 
ance but no enthusiasm for 
prohibition, and there was 
eventual support for 
woman suffrage. 

On social and legislative 
issues regarding native 
Americans, African- 
Americans, Asian- Ameri- 
cans, and women, these 
editors expressed a range 
of views from sentimental- 
ity toward native Ameri- 
cans and sympathy for the 
builders of the transconti- 
nental railroad, to clear 
prejudice toward Jews, 
Irish, and Italians and little 
concern about women's 
rights. They deliberated 
over the questions of na- 
tivism and loyalty in war- 
time, over immigration 
quotas and tolerance of 
foreign-language speak- 
ing, and over the merits of 
the melting pot versus cul- 
tural pluralism. 

The book's strength is in 
its presentation of this 
large overview on several 
important issues, and in 
the lucid contextual his- 
torical detail offered by 
Anderson. The reader 
wishes for a concluding 
chapter that pulled to- 

gether these many strands 
and began to characterize 
and distinguish more 
clearly the main lines of 
thought from that of the 
fringes. For a reader not 
well-versed in Norwegian- 
Americana, there are prob- 
lems in keeping track of 
the many editors and 
newspapers and their cen- 
tral features as they are re- 
ferred to in a variety of 
specific issues. Anderson 
tries to be helpful in a brief 
summation in the intro- 
ductory chapter and with 
data on each paper in the 

The book certainly adds 
to the growing knowledge 
about Norwegian- Ameri- 
cans and their political, so- 
cial and cultural concerns. 
It will provide other re- 
searchers with a helpful 
background from which to 
pursue case studies or 
cross-group thematic in- 
vestigations of these is- 

. . . Marion T. Marzolf 
University of Michigan 


By Susan Jeffords. 

• Indiana University Press 

•1989,240 pp. 

•$35, Cloth; $12.50, Paper 

is a feminist study of 
popular literature, film, 
and non-fiction about 
American involvement in 
the war in Vietnam. It ar- 
gues that accounts of Viet- 
nam — whether fiction or 

non-fiction — have been an 
important means of rein- 
stating white male patriar- 
chal values in American 
culture. In their narratives 
of Vietnam, Jeffords ar- 
gues, the media have revi- 
talized traditional values 
that were seriously chal- 
lenged by the second wave 
of feminism, the civil rights 
and antiwar movements, 
and government endorse- 
ment of civil rights and af- 
firmative action for women 
and minorities in the 1950s, 
1960s, and 1970s. These 
revisionist narratives, she 
argues, have superseded 
the critical interpretations 
that pervaded popular cul- 
ture during the Vietnam 

A work in the decon- 
structionist tradition of lit- 
erary criticism. The Remas- 
culinization of America ana- 
lyzes non-fiction journalis- 
tic and oral history ac- 
counts of Vietnam and 
Richard Nixon's memoir. 
No More Vietnams, as well 
as popular films such as 
the Rambo movies. Full 
Metal Jacket, and The Deer- 
hunter, and fiction includ- 
ing Bobbie Ann Mason's In 
Country. Although most of 
the text is devoted to film, 
Jeffords makes no distinc- 
tion among the forms in 
which the accounts ap- 
pear. She.does this because 
one of her arguments is 
that the Vietnam narrative 
itself — perhaps intention- 
ally — confuses fact and fic- 
tion and claims that "what 
was taken for a fact in the 
(outside) World has an en- 
tirely different meaning" 
in the separate culture of 

The remasculinization of 

Book Reviews 


the American culture is, in 
Jeffords's terms, the "rene- 
gotiation and regeneration 
of the interests, values, 
and projects of patriarchy" 
in American society. Re- 
masculinization in the 
Vietnam literature takes 
place through the ideal- 
ized "masculine point of 
view." In the Vietnam nar- 
rative, the reader or 
viewer is drawn from the 
realm of the outside critic 
so familiar in 1960s and 
1970s American culture 
into the point of view of 
the participant in the war, 
given the participant's 
unique definition of fact — 
who is the enemy, for ex- 
ample. The reader is com- 
pelled to focus on the 
means of war rather than 
on the questionable ends 
the war sought to achieve. 
The narratives celebrate 
how hard and bravely the 
soldier fought under espe- 
cially difficult circum- 
stances, in which the en- 
emy was indistinguishable 
from the ally and the 
American government was 
unwilling to win. 

In the masculine point of 
view, Jeffords argues, the 
white male soldier is por- 
trayed as the victim of the 
war and the government's 
no-win policy. Through 
male bonding that crosses 
the boundaries of race and 
class and continues into 
post-war civilian life, and 
through the elimination of 
women from the realm in 
which men are self-suffi- 
cient, the victimized male 
is ultimately triumphant in 
the Vietnam narrative. 

In Jeffords's treatment of 
journalistic accounts along 
with film and fiction, ob- 

jectivity isn't even an issue 
for discussion. All the 
work, regardless of genre, 
is seen as contributing to 
the project of the remas- 
culinization of American 
culture. From the tradi- 
tional perspective on jour- 
nalism as neutral truth- 
telling, Jeffords's interpre- 
tation of journalism as just 
one more subjective narra- 
tive will be jolting, making 
her feminist analysis of 
that narrative particularly 
difficult to accept. Even for 
those for whom objectivity 
is not an article of faith, 
Jeffords's interpretation is 
unrelentingly feminist. It 
acknowledges no alterna- 
tive readings and treats no 
texts that tell a different 
story about Vietnam. Nev- 
ertheless, Jeffords's view 
of this work should not be 
dismissed lightly if one 
seeks to understand social 
relations between men and 
women at the end of the 
twentieth century. 

. . . Carolyn Stewart Dyer 
University of Iowa 


By Barbara Lounsberry. 

• Greenwood Press 
•1990,232 pp. 

• $39.95, Cloth 

BARBARA Lounsberry, an 
English professor at the 
University of Northern 
Iowa, brings serious liter- 
ary criticism, which she 
describes as "largely for- 
malist in cast," to bear on 
the works of five impor- 

tant writers who have pro- 
duced a substantial body 
of literary nonfiction in the 
last thirty years: Gay 
Talese, Tom Wolfe, John 
McPhee, Joan Didion, and 
Norman Mailer. 

Her chapter on Talese is 
best, perhaps because she 
was able to interview him. 
Lounsberry finds a domi- 
nant image in almost all of 
Talese's writing. "One of 
the strongest themes in 
Talese's work is his focus 
on generational legacies," 
she writes. "Whether writ- 
ing of bridge builders, ce- 
lebrities, the Mafia, sexual 
pioneers, or The New York 
Times, Talese tends to be 
drawn obsessively toward 
the parent-child relation." 

Each of the other writers 
has been driven by similar 
themes, she says. With 
Wolfe, it is the "vision of 
an American Jeremiah," 
that is, one who complains 
about the decay and disas- 
ter he sees around him and 
attempts to join social criti- 
cism with spiritual re- 

McPhee's work, she 
writes, has been obses- 
sively concerned with 
circles and levels: "Circles 
and spheres, the primary 
form, are in McPhee's 
writing from beginning to 
end." She connects his 
writing to that of Emerson 
and Thoreau. Lounsberry 
correctly predicts that 
McPhee will turn his atten- 
tion next to the sea — he 
has recently completed a 
book on the U.S. Merchant 

Didion's fascination with 
light produces her artistic 
vision. "Didion craves the 
white light of truth, yet 


AJ /Summer 1990 

finds 'truth' most often 
flickering and insubstan- 
tial, a lambent light, a 
'shimmer' hard to hold. 
Like Emily Dickinson, she 
locates 'truth' obliquely, in 
the slippage or breakage, 
between the lines and over 
the border." 

In Mailer's nonfiction 
Lounsberry concentrates 
on his use of metaphor 
and suggests that his 
choice of nonfiction sub- 
jects follows a pattern 
from birth (Advertisements 
For Myself) through a rite 
of passage {Armies of the 
Night) to death (Execu- 
tioner's Song,). 

Eventually this constant 
repetition of themes be- 
comes reductionist. Have 
such important and crea- 
tive writers been thinking 
of nothing other than these 
single themes as they 
scribbled for thirty years? I 
asked McPhee what he 
thought of Lounsberry's 
thesis that circles have 
played a central role in his 
work. McPhee said it was 
a case of a scholar thinking 
she knows more about 
these words than the writer 
himself. There are circles 
in his work, and it is an in- 
teresting observation, but 
it does not necessarily help 
us understand McPhee's 
works. To do that, you 
have to closely examine 
his structures and relate 
his subjects to his life. To 
understand Wolfe, you 
have to understand some- 
thing about his ability as a 
reporter. Neither gets 
mentioned in this book. 

Lounsberry can also be 
faulted for ignoring what 
these authors have done in 
the last decade. Most of 

the books she examines 
were written before 1980, 
so her book focuses more 
on New Journalists than 
on "contemporary" writers. 

Lounsberry goes looking 
for the psychological and 
thematic dynamics in liter- 
ary nonfiction, which 
strikes me as a noble pur- 
suit. Particularly in the 
cases of Didion and Talese, 
Lounsberry draws star- 
tling connections between 
the lives of the writers and 
their words. Relating 
Wolfe's work to the Bible, 
Jonathan Edwards, and 
the Great Awakening may 
seem ludicrous at first, a 
kind of English-professor 
knee-jerk reaction to a text. 
But it also elevates Wolfe 
from his status as "pop so- 
ciologist" to the pantheon 
of letters — something he 
claimed for himself when 
he compared Bonfire of the 
Vanities to the serialized 
novels of Charles Dickens. 

Many of Lounsberry's in- 
sights have the power of 
discovery and revelation. 
Literary nonfiction repre- 
sents a fertile field for criti- 
cism, formal or otherwise. 
As always, when critics 
are dealing with living 
writers, their observations 
are often strengthened by 
actual contact with the au- 
thors and careful attention 
to their biographies, as 
demonstrated in this book 
by the strong chapters on 
Talese and Didion. 

. . . Norman Sims 
University of Massachusetts 


By M. Ethan Katsh. 

• Oxford University Press 
•1989,347 pp. 

• $38, Cloth 

versibly changing the na- 
ture and practice of law 
much as the printing press 
did centuries ago, M. 
Ethan Katsh contends in 
his engaging book. The 
Electronic Media and the 
Transformation of Law. In 
the process, as the notion 
of precedent erodes and 
non-legal dispute proce- 
dures flourish. First 
Amendment protections 
will need to be reconceptu- 
alized as will specific areas 
of media law, including 
privacy, copyright, and 

Katsh, professor of legal 
studies at the University of 
Massachusetts in Amherst, 
writes persuasively about 
the inevitable transforma- 
tion of law that is already 
beginning to occur as elec- 
tronic media, primarily 
computers, become com- 
monplace in Western soci- 
ety. Technologically, com- 
puters differ from other 
forms of communication, 
he says, because they can 
store, retrieve, reproduce, 
revise, and transmit in- 
credible amounts of infor- 
mation almost instantane- 

These observations are 
certainly not original, but 
Katsh shows how the tech- 
nology is already making 
the legal concept of prece- 
dent, for example, un- 
workable because of an 

Book Reviews 


overabundance of infor- 
mation. He also argues 
that the technology will 
hinder governments from 
restricting the flow of elec- 
tronic information, making 
attempts at prior restraint 
or obscenity prosecutions 

Katsh tries to ground his 
predictions in comparative 
historical analysis, but 
these parts of the book suf- 
fer, perhaps unavoidably, 
from superficiality. Not a 
historian by training, he 
relies on a wide-ranging 
selection of scholarship 
from various disciplines as 
he undertakes the mam- 
moth task of showing how 
technological changes in 
communication have af- 
fected the nature of law 
and society throughout 
history. Beginning with 
preliterate societies and 
their oral tradition, Katsh 
discusses how the intro- 
duction of writing fostered 
a more hierarchical form 
of law. The printing press, 
on the other hand, brought 
equality, stability and pre- 
dictability to the law. The 
electronic media, Katsh 
speculates, will radically 
destabilize the legal sys- 
tem built around the print 

Regrettably, Katsh skips 
completely the arrival of 
electrical technology in 
communication and its ef- 
fect on the law. He doesn't 
discuss, for instance, how 
the telegraph or the tele- 
phone affected the law or 
the legal profession. Tele- 
graphic and electrical 
trade journals in the nine- 
teenth century often car- 
ried articles about how 
these new technologies 

would change the law, 
specifically in terms of 
what messages would be 
considered as admissible 
evidence in court. 

In his historical synthe- 
sis, Katsh also seems to see 
technological changes in 
communication occurring 
in a vacuum, without ac- 
knowledging social, eco- 
nomic, and political factors 
that undoubtedly also in- 
fluenced the development 
of law. 

Despite these short- 
comings. The Electronic 
Media and the Transforma- 
tion of Law is provocative 
and entertaining, though 
of limited scholarly value 
to journalism historians. 

. . . Linda Lawson 
Indiana University 


By Joseph P. McKerns. 

• Greenwood Press 
•1989,834 pp. 

• $95, Cloth 

dictionary from Green- 
wood Press is another of 
that publisher's useful vol- 
umes in the fields of jour- 
nalism and mass commu- 
nications. Covering almost 
five hundred individuals 
in nearly eight hundred 
pages, this alphabetically 
arranged collection offers 
convenient snapshots of 
significant journalists in 
American history from 
1690 to the present. The 
term journalist here in- 
cludes writers/reporters; 

editors and publishers of 
newspapers and maga- 
zines; their counterparts in 
radio and television; edito- 
rial cartoonists; photojour- 
nalists; and columnists/ 

Volume editor Joseph 
McKerns is a respected 
journalism historian, well 
grounded in the field. In 
the introduction he ex- 
plains clearly and persua- 
sively the rationale for 
choosing individuals in 
the collection. The inclu- 
sion of fifty women and 
thirty minority/ethnic 
journalists, for example, 
represents a conscious ef- 
fort to represent the very 
rich and diverse heritage 
of journalism. In addition, 
some living persons are 
included, with a bias here 
toward broadcast media 
because of the relative 
newness of radio and tele- 

Most of the entries are 
well-crafted, tightly writ- 
ten accounts, whether of 
major figures like Joseph 
Pulitzer, Frederick 
Douglass, Marguerite 
Higgins, and Walter 
Cronkite, or of lesser- 
known contributors to the 
field, like the revolution- 
ary-era radicals John and 
Elizabeth Hunter Holt or 
the nineteenth-century 
general agent of the West- 
ern Associ'ated Press who 
helped combine it with the 
New York AP, William 
Henry Smith. Of necessity 
in a volume like this, the 
entries provide an over- 
view, rather than thorough 
analysis. Many of these 
authors manage, however, 
to convey the facts with 
flair; many entries go far 


AJ /Summer 1990 

beyond being "who's 
who" Ustings and provide 
context to make the facts 

Besides McKerns, a di- 
verse group of 131 writers 
contributed to the volume. 
Many are specialists who 
have invested years in the 
study of their subjects (e.g. 
Roger Yarrington on Isaiah 
Thomas, Nancy Roberts on 
Dorothy Day, Maurine 
Beasley on Lorena Hickok, 
McKerns himself on Ben- 
jamin Perley Poo re). Even 
those not widely known as 
experts on specific indi- 
viduals, however, gener- 
ally write with under- 
standing of and apprecia- 
tion for their subjects and 
their contributions to and 
significance for journalism 
in the United States. 

The format for each entry 
is one that has become the 
norm for volumes like this, 
including, for example, the 
Dictionary of American Bi- 
ography and the Dictionary 
of Literary Biography. Each 
entry frames the person's 
life chronologically at the 
outset by indicating dates 
of birth and, where appli- 
cable, death; summarizes 
in the first paragraph the 
person's most significant 
contributions to the field; 
recounts chronologically 
major developments and 
events in the individual's 
life; and lists references, 
autobiographical ones fol- 
lowed by biographical 
ones. The quality of the 
source lists is uneven in 
this volume. Some entries 
include all biographies 
available on their subjects, 
while others omit available 
biographies or omit recent 
ones. In this sort of a vol- 

ume with its highly con- 
densed entries, relatively 
complete bibliographies 
can do much to help sat- 
isfy a reader's hunger for 
fuller information and un- 

It's tempting with a vol- 
ume like this to light on 
the omissions (yes, I've 
made a list of people I 
wish had been included, 
like Adela Rogers St. John, 
Otis Chandler, Patricia 
Carbine, Edgar Snow, and 
Anna Louise Strong. And 
why not Ted Turner?). But 
that seems both facile and 
unfair. The tough assign- 
ment for the editor of a 
volume like this is decid- 
ing who shall remain in, 
given the real limits associ- 
ated with publishing costs. 

In that regard, a real 
negative of this volume is 
the chokingly high cost 
($95!) which will keep it 
out of the personal librar- 
ies of many who would 
find it a handy reference. It 
deserves to be part of uni- 
versity library reference 
collections, however. 

. . . Terry Hynes 

California State University, 




TULSA, OK 74104 


BYU Library S 
OCT 2 8 2005 

FALL 1990 
Published by the American JoumaHsm Historians Association 


A M E R I C A N 



Pop Culture as Ritual 



Review Essay: 

Current Research 

in the History of Reading 

The Carolingians 
and the Written Word 

Black Press, U.S.A. 

The Color of the Sky 

the Counterculture 

A Legislative History 

of the Communications 

Act of 1934 

State of the Art 

FCC: The Ups and Downs 
of Radio-TV Regulation 




• Reconsidering James Carey 
On Carey's Attempt to Conceptualize 
Technology As a Form of Culture. 

Carolyn Marvin 


Oppositionalizing Carey 

On Carey's Critique of Monopolies of Power 

and Monopolies of Knowledge. 

Jerilyn S. Mclntyre 227 

Culture, Communication, and Carey 

On Carey's Quest for a Moral Discourse 

in Communication Studies. 

Michael Schudson 233 

Technology As a Totem for Culture 

On Americans' Use of High Technology 

As a Model for Social Order. 

James W. Carey 242 

Bibliography of Works 

by James W. Carey 

Books, Articles, and Reviews, 1960-1990. 

Compiled with the help of Barbara Buckley 


Historiographical Essay 
Telling the Story of Story 
The Importance of Narrative llieory 
for the Study of Journalism History. 
Jack Lule 



John J. Pauly 



Pamela A. Brown 

Rider College 

Gary Whitby 

Spring Hill College 


Nancy Roberts 



Sharon M.W. Bass 



Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 


Barbara Buckley 



Wm. David Sloan 


Gary Whitby 

Spring Hill College 



Maurine Beasley 



Leomard Teel 

Georgia State 


Donald Avery 

Southern Mississippi 


Perry Ashley 

South Carolina 

Roy Atwood 

Elaine Berland 


Lester Carson 


Edward CaudUl 


Barbara Qoud 

Nevada-Las Vegas 

Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Nancy Roberts 



American Journalism publishes 
articles, research notes, book 
reviews, and correspondence 
dealing with the history of 
journalism. Such contribu- 
tions may focus on social, 
economic, intellectual, politi- 
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Journalism also welcomes ar- 
ticles that treat the history of 
communication in general; the 
history of broadcasting, ad- 
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the history of media outside 
the United States; and theo- 
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or methods of media history. 

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Steve Sumner 



FOR ALL JAMES CAREY'S influence on mass com- 
munication studies, his work remains curiously 
underread . It is easy, of course, to detect the influence 
of specific essays. His essay on "A Cultural Approach 
to Communication" helped define a whole domain of 
study. His essay on "The Problem of Journalism His- 
tory" continues to agitate that field. But students of 
communication have not studied his work with the 
same care that they regularly devote to the work of 
social theorists suchas Anthony Giddens, Raymond 
Williams, Clifford Gerrtz, Richard Rorty, or Jurgen 

The reasons for this benign neglect are probably 
several. For all his grace as a writer, Carey is better 
known as a speaker par excellence. Carey's work also 
resists easy appropriation for the cause of the day. It 
is not the sort of writing that readily wins invitations 
from Congressional investigating committees, grants 
from national foundations, or center stage at a protest 
rally. No entourage trails Carey at conventions, for he 
promises no ready-made style of academic identity 
for would-be disciples. 

Most importantly, Carey remains underread be- 
cause his work has appeared in scattered and idio- 
syncratic venues. He is a self-admitted essayist, rather 
than an author of books. By their nature, essays arrive 
without the bluster of publicity. They surprise us in 
a moment of quiet conviviality, then depart. And our 
attention turns elsewhere. 

By this special issue, American Journalism hopes to 
inspire a more systematic reading of Carey's work. 
The occasion for this issue is the recent publication of 
Communication As Culture. I asked three respected 
communication historians — Carolyn Marvin, Jerilyn 
Mclntyre, and Michael Schudson — to write review 
essays on Carey's book. Professor Carey agreed to 
respond and to let American Journalism publish a bib- 
liography of his work as well. 

Ideally, this issue will invite a sustained discussion 
of Carey's work. For Carey, who devoutly believes in 
the political power of conversation, that would be a 
worthy result indeed. 



John Wayne and other 
Hollywood fantasies in 
two Vietnam War memoirs 
reveals the importance of 
cultural content in the 
mass media and popular 
myth. Ron Kovic in Bom 
on the Fourth of July 
(McGraw-Hill, 1976) and 
Phillip Caputo in A Rumor 
of War (Holt, Rinehart and 
Winston, 1977) evoke John 
Wayne's name and image 
to symbolize their own 
self-image as well as no- 
tions of heroism and disil- 

These Vietnam memoirs 
dramatize the importance 
of James Carey's message 
that scholars should take 
seriously the cultural con- 
tent of the mass media. 
Carey's ritual model ap- 
plies not only to news but 
also to popular culture, 
whose nostalgic images 
persist even when they 
seem to have outlived 
their usefulness. Recent 
trends in the content of 
both entertainment and 
politics make Carey's mes- 
sage all the more impera- 

Both Kovic and Caputo 
blame Hollywood for their 
optimism and their expec- 
tations for war. Kovic, who 
enlisted in the Marines 
hoping to become a hero, 
spent his childhood Satur- 
day afternoons at the mov- 
ies watching prehistoric 
monsters and war movies 
featuring John Wayne and 



Audie Murphy. He 
watched The Sands of Iwo 
Jima with his girlfriend, 

"The Marine Corps 
hymn was playing in the 
background," Kovic writes, 
"as we sat glued to our 
seats, humming the hymn 
together and watching 
Sergeant Stryker, played by 
John Wayne, charge up the 
hill and get killed just be- 
fore he reached the top. 
And then they showed the 
men raising the flag on 
Iwo Jima with the marines' 
hymn still playing, and 
Castiglia and I cried in our 
seats. I loved the song so 
much, and every time I 
heard it I would think of 
John Wayne and the brave 
men who raised the flag on 
Iwo Jima that day. I would 
think of them and cry." 

John Wayne became a 
hero to Kovic and his 
friends, who reenacted 
movie plots and created 
new ones with their Mattel 
machine guns and green 
plastic soldiers. Marine 
Corps recruiters at his high 
school reinforced Kovic' s 
image. "And as I shook 
their hands and stared up 
into their eyes," Kovic says, 
"I couldn't help but feel I 
was shaking hands with 
John Wayne and Audie 

Caputo's platoon leader 
"fit the Hollywood image 
of a Marine sergeant so 
perfectly that he seemed a 
case of life imitating art." 
John Wayne's name ap- 
peared as Caputo received 

instructions for an im- 
pending defensive action. 
"I don't want anyone 
going in there thinking 
he's going to play John 
Wayne," his leader said. 
John Wayne's image later 
personified Caputo's own 
feelings during a "delir- 
ium of violence" in com- 
bat. "I was John Wayne in 
'Sands of Iwo Jima.' I was 
Aldo Ray in 'Battle Cry.' 
No, I was a young, some- 
what immature officer 
flying on an overdose of 
adrenalin because I had 
just won a close-quarters 
fight without suffering a 
single casualty." 

Disillusionment set in 
when war failed to meas- 
ure up to its Hollywood 
image. For Caputo, it came 
when he saw an eighteen- 
or nineteen-year-old en- 
emy soldier lying in a pool 
of his own blood, feeling 
intense pain, and surely 
knowing that death was 
near. "A modern, high-ve- 
locity bullet strikes with 
tremendous impact. No 
tidy holes as in the movies. 
The two in his belly were 
small — each about the size 
of a dime — ^but I could 
have put my fist into the 
exit wounds in his back." 

Kovic returned from the 
war paralyzed from the 
waist down. "Yes," he 
writes, "I gave my dead 
dick for John Wayne and 
Howdy Doody, for 
Castiglia and Sparky the 
barber. Nobody ever told 
me I was going to come 
back from this war with- 

out a penis. But I am back 
and my head is screaming 
now and I don't know 
what to do." 

Feeling psychological 
pain, Caputo dreams of 
the mutilated bodies of 
men in his platoon and re- 
lives his feeir. "And this 
unreasoning fear qioickly 
produced the sensation I 
had often had in action: of 
watching myself in a 
movie. Although I have 
had a decade to think 
about it, I am still unable 
to explain why I woke up 
in that condition." 

Hollywood provided 
both Kovic and Caputo 
with idealized images of 
war that only intensified 
their subsequent disillu- 
sionment. Nothing in the 
culture prepared them for 
dealing with pain, only 
with victory. 

In our new symbolic re- 
ality, American purity and 
uniqueness have been 
shattered. Yet a ubiquitous 
nostalgia for a return of 
lost power and innocence 
has become a recurring 
theme in popular culture. 
For a time, Vietnam re- 
placed the American fron- 
tier as the stage on which 
our national mythic play is 
performed. Rambo returns 
to win; Robin Williams to 
demonstrate our good in- 
tentions; and Tom Cruise 
(in Kovic's story) to show 
that war is hell, despite the 
best of intentions 

In the fall 1982 issue of 
Foreign Affairs, historian 
William H. McNeill called 
for the creation of new na- 
tional myths to compensate 
for the disillusionment 
that resulted from Vietnam 
and Watergate. 

Historians wallowed in 
detail, he wrote, while the 
nation needed new myths 
to acknowledge cultural 
diversity and to restrain 
violence while replacing 
old views of manifest des- 
tiny and universalistic 
moralism. Calling myth 
"mankind's substitute for 
instinct," McNeill con- 
tended that the nation 
would be unable to take 
coherent public action in 
the absence of believable 

The massive and rapid 
buildup of U.S. troops in 
the Persian Gulf in 1990, 
however, belied the notion 
that American self-percep- 
tion as world hero had 
self-destructed. American 
forces quickly took the 
lead with Arabs in sup- 
porting roles; the old stere- 
otypes of white superiority 
and dark-skinned wards 
reappeared, although tem- 
pered by a desperate effort 
to build moral and finan- 
cial support worldwide. 
President Bush's rationale 
came primarily in negative 
terms: to stop aggression. 
No one defended U.S. in- 
volvement as a struggle 
for democracy, only for 
the right to determine the 
price of oil, to "kick some 
ass," and to protect our 
"way of life." Few defined 
the Gulf crisis as a struggle 
over the sovereignty of 
kings. And everyone seem- 
ed to ignore the presumed 
Vietnam lesson that world 
conflicts have a history 
that cannot be reversed by 
military power alone. 

Memoirs by Vietnam vet- 
erans like Kovic and 
Caputo have shown the 
importance of national 

myths and symbols. The 
Gulf crisis provides yet an- 
other demonstration of the 
mass media's power and 
the dangers of people's 
dependence upon it. 
Within hotirs, the presi- 
dent mobilized troops, 
while news coverage and 
national polls demon- 
strated (or built) support. 

The manipulation of 
symbols in this increas- 
ingly media-dependent 
political environment and 
the demise of moral values 
in both popular culture 
and political rhetoric de- 
mand the attention of seri- 
ous scholarship. The study 
of commvmication as cul- 
ture provides an environ- 
ment in which to take up 
such work. 

. . . VJilliam E. Huntzicker 
University of Minnesota 



Carolyn Marvin 

Carolyn Marvin is 
associate profes- 
sor of communica- 
tion at the Annen- 
berg School for 
Communication at 
the University of 
Pennsylvania. She 
is the author of 
When Old Tech- 
nologies Were 
iVevir (Oxford, 1988) 
and currently is at 
work on a study 
of American flag 

Leopards break into the temple and drink the sacrificial 
chalices dry; this occurs repeatedly, again and again: fi- 
nally it can he reckoned beforehand and becomes part of the 

— Franz Kafka, The Great Wall of China 

WHEN JAMES CAREY FORMULATED the distinction between 
ritual and transmission more than a decade ago in order to 
interrogate the direction of scholarly thought about communica- 
tion, it could have been said that he became one of the leopards 
in the temple, and that as a result, the look of the ceremony 
changed.^ Along with other students and critics of culture con- 
templating a sinrdlar range of problems, Carey struck a resonant 
chord in a congregation dissatisfied with the liturgy. Over the 
years, his provocative distinction has continued to capture the 
imagination and energy of students and scholars seeking ways 
to formulate unfolding intuitions about what to pay attention to 
and why. Today the leopards are part of the ceremony. We have 
embraced what Joe Turow, quoting Clifford Geertz, calls the 
"rise of the interpretive tum."^ There are audiences, journals, 
and scholars eager to take up the cultural perspective Carey 
called for. This is an important achievement in our field. Its ac- 
knowledgement, appropriately symbolized in the publication of 
Carey's essays spanning that period of transformation, provides 
an opportunity briefly to replenish and drink again from the 
chalice of that originating provocation. 

1. James Carey, "A Cultural Approach to Communication," Communication 2 
(December 1975): 1-22, reprinted in Carey, Communication As Culture (Boston: 
Unwin Hyman, 1989), 13-36. 

2. Joseph Turow, "Media Industries, Media Consequences: Rethinking Mass 
Communication," in Communication Yearbook 13, ed. James A. Anderson 
(Newbury HiUs, Calif.: Sage, 1990), 478. 

In person and in print, Carey has always been the most 
generous of teachers. As one who has felt that gift deeply, and in 
the spirit of that original challenge, I shall suggest that Carey's 
initial distinction could also be drawn in an arena where it has 
had less development and attention. This is the arena of technol- 
ogy, entering the field as a fashionable subject area during the 
last decade in the guise of "new technologies," where it took over 
(though this was not its exclusive presentation) some of the very 
behavioral and functional perspectives Carey had questioned. 
What I wish to argue is that Carey's notion of communication as 
ritual, or cultural code, should be applied to technology, and not 
oppositionally contrasted to it. Though Carey is too subtle a 
thinker to dichotomize good-communication and bad-technol- 
ogy, there are aspects of his writing that do seem to point in that 
direction, and about which some stirring up of the waters may 
provide a useful clarification of his work. 

Carey argued that applying a transmission view to communi- 
cation obscured it as a human and cultural exchange by overlay- 
ing an alternative analysis of how technically constructed mes- 
sage features such as sp)eed, reach, volume, and efficiency could 
be used to control citizens and workers more or less well.^ We 
should consider whether framing technology in the vocabulary 
of transmission conceptually dehydrates social life, to use Victor 
Turner's phrase, in a comparable way. By a "transmission" 
notion of technology I mean the view that technological forms 
irresistibly structure symbolic space in the vocabulary of speed, 
size, and control, that technology's primary effect is to distance 
us from one another, and that technology is of a different 
substance than culture. It reflects it; it may or may not determine 
it; but it is not it. An alternative "ritual" frame extending both the 
logic and spirit of Carey's original distinction might question 
these primary assumptions about technology, broaden the range 
of artifacts and practices commonly thought of in connection 
with communicative exchange, and in particular exannine the 
up-close, performative aspects of technological practice. It would 
elaborate for a specific domain of practices Mary Douglas's 
dictum that consumption, broadly defined to mean every facet 
of our cultural appropriation of goods, "is a ritual process whose 
primary function is to make sense of the inchoate flux of events.""* 

In fairness, the frame I mean is a frame that Carey himself has 
touched on over the years. Things, he says, quoting Kenneth 
Burke, are the way we talk about ourselves, and artifacts are 
products of human action on the world. But as I read Carey, 
technology is for the most part anti-ritual and its meanings more 
pathological than not. While I suspect Carey may not be per- 

3. For a classic analysis of this kind, see Ithiel de Sola Pool, "Tracking the Flow 
of Information," Science, 12 August 1983, 609-13. 

4. Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood, The World of Goods: Towards an Anthro- 
pology of Consumption (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), 65. 

218 AJ/Fall 1990 

suaded to extend his ritual view in precisely the way I am 
suggesting, and that he will not lack for subtle and eloquent ar- 
guments to the contrary, I hope to engage him nonetheless. 

Carey has never explicitly limited the transmission view of 
communication that he wished to problematise to what is tech- 
nological, though he argues that the metaphor of communica- 
tion as transmission is characteristic of industrial cultures. In- 
dustrial cultures are technologized in their very name, of course, 
and it is hard to know what could make communication trans- 
mission-like, if not technology. That observation must be tem- 
pered by the recognition that we define technology in peculiarly 
tribal ways. The best known of these definitions lean heavily on 
efficiency, rationality, instrumentality, method, and replication. 
These are one-dimensional, totalizing definitions of the kind 
Carey has warned against in treating communication itself. As a 
discursive writer and a critic of neat, exclusionary systematizing 
beloved by the academy, Carey has consistently objected to 
behaviorist, functionalist, and critical models too reified and for- 
malistic to capture the complexity of human experience. We 
might similarly question the assumption that similar artifacts 
serve the same purposes in all societies, and indeed, in all social 
exchanges within any one society. We have learned that such 
assumptions about speech and myth are treacherous.^ They are 
equally treacherous about technology. What we might propose 
instead is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's observation, sounding not 
unlike James Carey, that "men and women make order in their 
selves by first creating and then interacting with the material 

Perhaps the least controversial and most serviceable defini- 
tion of technology is also the simplest. Technology is material 
culture: artifacts. This is a useful definition if it is admitted, as it 
generally now is, that artifacts have no cultural existence except 
within a symbolic milieu that generates, explains, and sustains 
them.^ That symbolic setting could be a factory in which artifacts 
are a focus and a medium for human relationships accomplished 
around the moment of production, a museum or art gallery in 
which artifacts perform as memory objects or are deliberately 
distanced from customary contexts in order to notice certain 
things about them, or a w edding shower in which artifacts are 

5. Dell Hymes, "The Anthropology of Communication," in Human Communica- 
tion Theory, ed. Frank E. X. Dance, flMew York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 
1%7), 1-39; G.S. Kirk, Myth: Its Meaning and Function in Ancient and Other 
Cultures (New York: Cambridge, 1970). 

6. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton, The Meaning of 
Things: Domestic Symbols and the Sc// (New York: Cambridge, 1981), 16. 

7. One exemplciry instance of the current crop of definitions: Wiebe Bijker and 
his colleagues include objects, activities or processes, and knowledge as essen- 
tial components of a notion of technology, which they argue cannot be fruitfully 
defined with greater precision. See Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, Trevor 
Pinch, eds. The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the 
Sociology and History of Technology (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), 3^. 

Marvin 219 

given the role of gifts. The boundaries of technological definition 
tell us less about what technology is than what it is that people 
want to debate about. Invariably, the topic of this debate is the 
social relations called into question by a particular (indeed, 
every) system of artifacts. Definitions of technology thus lead 
away from artifacts to focus on social relationships. The bounda- 
ries of technological definition and debate reflect prejudices and 
predisp)ositions — ^not analytic precision, but culture. 

Carey's own treatment of technology is polemically distinc- 
tive. Carey recognizes two general classes of technology. One, by 
omission, contains artifacts that do not concern him. Technology 
is what Carey associates with communication-as-transmission. 
If I understand him right, communication at a distance made 
possible by modem, industrial, shiny, male-identified for the 
most part, capital-intensive forms of "high" technology for the 
purpose of control ("the more important manufactures," accord- 
ing to a 1909 Webster's Dictionary definition®) is the kind of 
communication that is undesirable. By extension, it furnishes the 
kind of society that may be undesirable as well. 

It cannot be objected that a technology or society so character- 
ized is arbitrary and partial in its rendering of the world, since 
the notion of the legitimacy of culturally idiosyncratic frames is 
what motivates cultural analysis to begin with. There is pres- 
ently a surge of concern about technologies or societies using 
technologies that seem to undermine the conditions of cultural 
diversity for other groups by structuring ever more controlled 
and rationalized environments. This position has substantial 
moral appeal, but also seriousanalyticdifficul ties. Animportant 
but rarely undertaken task of such a critique is to specify what 
counts as acceptable change and transformation among cultures 
in contact, and for that matter, among classes, groups, and per- 
sons within a "single" culture. Another task is justifying the 
categories we have constructed to describe cultural diversity 
and the views we may hold about their significance and value 
outside any cultural frame but our own, and finally, explaining 
how observers socialized in a particular cultural tradition and 
history can have valid knowledge of cultures, thoughts, and 
feelings outside that frame.' These are, of course, the kinds of 
objections typically raised in response to the "intef pretive turn," 
which its critics charge has told us a lot more about ourselves as 
interpreters than about culture. 

8. Quoted by Langdon Winner in Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of- 
Control As a Theme in Political Thought (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977), 8. 

9. For a viseful discussion of both sides of this argument, see Richard A. Sh weder, 
"Anthropology's Romantic Rebellion Against the Enlightenment, or There's 
More to Thinking Than Reason and Evidence," and Melford E. Spiro, "Some 
Reflections on Ciiltural Determinism and Relativism with Special Reference to 
Emotion and Reason," both in Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion 
ed. Richard A. Sh weder and Robert A. LeVine (New York: Cambridge, 1984), 
27-66, 323-46. 

220 AJ/Fall 1990 

But in the matter of technology Carey is no cultural relativist. 
His positioning of mass media and transportation as high-tech 
destroyers of community makes him a cultural positivist for 
whom transmissive technology is what is not original oral 
communication. The result is that distillate "effects" in mediated 
and face-to-face communication (which is mediated by lan- 
guage, costume, cosmetics, and all the other apparatuses of 
personal exchange) are community and culture determining. 
Distal artifacts, extending the operations of the body across 
space, threaten communities undisciplined by the constraints of 
face-to-face interaction. These are dislodged from their "natu- 
ral" centers by the irresistible pull of distant groups through the 
agency of distance-controlling artifacts. Technology is problem- 
atic because "it" constitutes the suspect mechanism that inter- 
feres with what Suzuki calls the "direct, immediate and total 
confrontation of human identities."^" The debatable assumption 
here, besides the belief that people always treat one another 
better close up and worse at a distance, is that distance-control- 
ling technology is not routinely filtered, structured, interpreted, 
or molded through close-up customs and meanings. 

Technology is a problematic in Carey's analysis partly be- 
cause community, as he has used the term, remains an uncertain 
social condition. Whatever might be the elastic vitality of com- 
munities, their ebb and flow in communication, remains in 
doubt, explorable but unexplored, since the implication of a 
critique of distance-controlling artifacts is that communities 
cease to be authentic or moral or manageable when their bounda- 
ries enlarge. This resistance to contact and transformation, and 
the related lack of a dynamic to explain whether and how there 
could be boundary changes and symbolic shifts of a non-patho- 
logical type, suggests a view of culture as product rather than 
process, and is puzzling, at least to me. It was John Dewey, after 
all, whose notion of society as communication is basic to Carey's 
theoretical posture, who argued for the transformative possibili- 
ties of communication. Dewey, of course, was alarmed by the 
inability of the great community created by transport and mass 
media to achieve the conditions for such communication. His 
point of reference was the New England village (artifactually 
symbolized by its covered bridge, its steepled church, and its 
wooden fences) and its ritual town meeting. We need not re- 
strain our admiration for those things to notice that this commu- 
nity was racially exclusive, ethnically homogeneous and unwel- 
coming, and unwilling to offer women the vote. These elements 
are too far from a historically altered sense (some of it achieved 
with the help of distal printed discussion, since racism can be a 
very face-to-face prejudice) of what is necessary for the demo- 

10. For a useful discussion of identity and oiltural performance, see Victor 
Turner, Fmm Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play (New York: 
Perfornung Arts Publications, 1982), 102-23. 

Marvin 221 

cratic spirit to flourish for us to idealize it as any but a nostalgic 
alternative to a society that takes cultural diversity up close more 
seriously, if not without pain. 

Carey's criteria for evaluating the worthiness of technologi- 
cally various communities are unclear because the lost commu- 
nities he admires — Dewey's New England, traditional Ireland, 
classical Greece — were themselves enriched by v^iters, travel- 
ers, and other citizens comfortable with symbolic distance. 
Distance is in fact essential to symbolic action, since symbols are 
displaced from what is symbolized. Can distal technologies 
enhance community? Is orality not so fragile? Can it be that 
speech and technique serve different purposes in different set- 
tings that must be established encounter by encounter? Social 
exchanges are simultaneously local and distant, personal and 
collective, past and present, space- and time-binding. Distance- 
controlling media need to be analyzed with due regard for local 
features of symbolic exchange. Nor is it clear that distant meanings 
chiefly govern and elaborate technological practices. To speak 
simply of technology, or distal technology, as perilous to com- 
munity may obscure in a reifying metaphor (the kind Carey 
rejects in descriptions of communication) intricate and complex 
sequences and hierarchies of social practice, and elaborate net- 
works of relations among actors, including bonds and opposi- 
tions of interest and friendship that should provide rich fields of 
inquiry for students of communication. We must entertain the 
possibility of Gemeinschaft at every point in the Gesellschaft, and 
look for it. 

Can, for example, Carey's distal-proximal model help us 
understand Henry Adams's perception of the electric dynamo? 
Adams spoke of it as "a symbol of infinity . . . hebegantofeelthe 
forty-foot dynamo as a moral force, much as the early Christians 

felt the Cross Before the end, one began to pray to it." No 

cultural analyst could resist the suggestion that symbols and 
rituals of the sacred migrate from content to content or that 
feelings of communion and participation are projected on things 
as well as gods, animals, and persons. This is not to deny the less 
than salutary aspects of human uses of technology with respect 
to other persons and the planet itself, but it is to argue that "fea- 
tures" of technology are found in human notions about technol- 
ogy rather than in structures issuing independently from arti- 
facts, and these notions complicate rather than simplify analysis. 

Consider also that anthropology has struggled over at least 
two contradictory meanings of the term ritual. One meaning 
calls to mind occasions and acts in which there is an intensifica- 
tion of the social structure. Ritual occurs, according to Arnold 
van Gennep, to whom we owe the notion of rites de passage, in 
moments of transformative possibility, danger, and suspense — 
in the presence, that is, of an implied p)eril to the social structure 
which may or may not be resolved by a return to the ancien re- 

222 AJ/Fall 1990 

gime. Rituals of this kind, says Victor Turner, are "occasions not 
given over to technological routine."" But there is surely techno- 
logical non-routine wherever subliniity and terror focus on 
artifacts. This is what moon landings are about, atomic bomb 
blasts, and wedding rings. 

An alternative sense of ritual comes by way of Sir Edmund 
Leach through Emile Ehirkheim and Clyde Kluckhohn, among 
others, and refers to routinized and non-special acts, familiar 
and comfortable activities whose reassuring presence tells their 
practitioners they are at home in their culture. Such rituals are 
not specially marked and communicate the prevailing social 
values and rules of the community, reflecting Peter Berger's 
description of human society as "essentially and inevitably 
externalizing activity ... an edifice of externalized and objecti- 
vated meanings, always intending a meaningful totality."^^ 

Whereas ritual in the first, or strong, sense seeks to stabilize 
change and contain crisis, it has ways of accommodating and us- 
ing it. This is Kafka's point in the vignette of the leopards in the 
temple. The second sense, however, describes a world where 
change is absent and unwelcome at worst, unaccounted for at 
best. It is in this second weak sense of ritual, through a variety of 
small but significant social acts, that Carey presents his proto- 
type example of newspaper reading-and-writing for analysis. 
Carey's choice is illuminating because of the newspaper's place 
in a cultural chain of events that is identified by its unseverable 
links to two technologies firmly affixed to a transmission 
mentalite — printing and transportation. The daily newspaper 
cannot be in the reader's hands without the delivery truck, the 
roads on which it travels, the printing satellite, the rocket that 
launches it, the reporters who make use not only of roads, 
telephones, and laptops, but pencils and notebooks. It requires 
a standardized technique for transforming and conveying lan- 
guage — the alphabet, and years of regimented training in its use. 
Newspaper reading is socially embedded in other technologi- 
cally saturated settings as well — the house on Sunday, the 
subway ride to work, the automatic coffeemaker, and all the 
complex family, neighbor, stranger, gender, and class relations 
in which all these artifacts are also implicated, and through 
which their meaning is constituted. Newspaper reading cannot 
do without the artifact in a thousand forms patterned and 
textured in complex and meaningful ways among citizens in 
complementary, competing, and overlapping networks of asso- 

Not only must ritual have techniques and objects (Can we 
imagine a king without a throne, a judge without a bench, a pro- 
fessor without a chair? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks), but ritual 

11. Turner, From Ritual to Theatre:, 79. 

12. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion 
(New York: Anchor, 1969), 27. 

Marvin 223 

cannot do without control, authority, or hierarchy, which Carey 
presents as the distinguishing mark of transmissive technology. 
Carey has also described ritually framed communication as "the 
construction and maintenance of an ordered, meaningful cul- 
tural world that can serve as a control and container for human 
action." The traditional sense of ritual as the performance of a 
closely controlled sequence of acts or words thus embodies the 
notion of conformity to an authorized order. Nothing about the 
ritualized representation of shared beliefs is incompatible with 
the struggle, sometimes muted, sometimes more open, for con- 
trol of those representations and the people arrayed about them. 
Whatever is involved in stabilizing or challenging meaning in a 
culture involves control. 

This is not because we have too little imagination to see 
anything but control as the paramount fact of social life. It is be- 
cause at every level of social life, to paraphrase Foucault, the 
problem of control is fundamentally a problem of meaning: 
what reality will be, how resources of meaning shall be allocated 
and invested, which symbols belong together and which may be 
torn apart, and (always) by whom. Nor is the celebration of 
tradition less controlling for operating in a temporal rather than 
a spatial frame, as Eric Hobsbawm and his colleagues have 
demonstrated about those traditions we call modern, and as 
anyone who has ever lived in a small town might attest.^^ 
Hannah Arendt makes this point and argues implicitly, in my 
view, for technology-as-ritual by asserting that cultural stabili- 
zation requires both reification, or the transformation of the 
intangible into the tangibility of things, and remembrance. To 
put it another way, remembrance, which we commonly recog- 
nize as a ritual process, and reification, which we do not, are 
necessary to make the cultural world real and reliable.^* 

Analytically, it seems difficult to separate communication as 
transmission from communication as ritual on the basis of the 
categories of control or preservation. If the term ritual suggests 
a cultural frame, a compelling explanation for social reality pat- 
terned and collectively attended to and maintained in ways that 
may include many forms of struggle and negotiation in commu- 
nicative acts that manifest and create culture, then technology is 
a term for a very large ritual domain of communicative culture, 
and the metaphor of transmission is too restrictive a way of 
thinking not only about communication, but about technology 
as well. 

Technological practice is a social process of the same kind that 
communication is. In both, elements of symbolic systems are 
manipulated through material objects and networks of personal 

13. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds.. The Invention of Tradition (New 
York: Cambridge, 1983). 

14. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago, 
1958), 94-96. 

224 AJ /Fall 1990 

and collective relations to make meanings. This is not to say that 
anyone anytime has unlimited power with respect to the opera- 
tion of technology or the interpretation of technologically pro- 
duced or embodied symbols, but only that specific artifactual 
expressions and arrangements do embody and signify groups 
located in temporal or spatial circumstances in which power, 
prestige, purity, and honor are always scarce resources, and that 
culture and history are made as such arrangements change. 
Uncautiously used, the term technology becomes a misleading 
shorthand to homogenize and reduce the multi-leveled polyva- 
lent relationships of people. Nor is this an argument against 
critical distance and in favor of apologias for mass culture and its 
ideology of consumer capitalism, but only in favor of phenome- 
nal and cultural complexity, and enough patience to discover it. 

How would technology look different if we thought of it as 
ritually embodying constitutive and regulative rules of social 
formation, as coding particular dimensions of the conversation 
about who we are and what we stand for? From a strong or weak 
ritual perspective, technology has but one dramatic role. That is 
to facilitate, organize, and otherwise mediate and provision hu- 
man relationships, to elaborate the significance of communica- 
tive relationships, and to provide opportunities and codes for 
maneuvering and manipulating those relationships. Conven- 
tional attempts to distinguish technological from other kinds of 
social practice by designating functional utility as its distinctive 
purp>ose fail to the extent that such descriptions have meaning 
only with reference to prior, which is to say, historically and 
culturally fashioned notions of the world and human relation- 
ships, and of what rationality and efficiency might mean. As 
Marshall Sahlins writes, utility is not a quality of the object but 
a significance of the objective qualities.^^ 

The point recalls the instructive arbitrariness of Martin 
Heidegger's claim in The Question Concerning Technology that the 
nature of a river is less violated by a wooden footbridge than a 
steam-powered turbine.^^ This can only be true if the "nature" of 
the river is energy, let us say, and not boundary. But perhaps the 
nature of the river is to separate, which essence a footbridge 
profoundly violates by connecting banks, whereas a turbine is 
harmonious because it faithfully translates the river's energetic 
nature. The river cannot be consulted in any case. Only man's 
notion of the nature of the river, the footbridge, and the turbine 
can be negotiated among men. The same is true of artifacts which 
are interpreted both in creation and application, but not identi- 
cally in every exchange. 

There is no technology that does not place those arranged 

15. Marshall Sahlins, Culture and Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chi- 
cago Press, 1976), 169. 

16. Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, 
trans.William Lovitt (New York: Harper Torch books, 1977), 16. 

Marvin 225 

around it in social relations to one another, and there is thus no 
uncommunicative technology or technological practice. Con- 
sider the car door slammed in anger, as much a "function" of a 
car as the transportational possibilities that facilitate other kinds 
of communicative relationships. Consider the expressive drama 
of driving. In a car culture, how could it be otherwise? The 
expansive phrase "technology and culture" labels a kind of 
inquiry that places artifacts in a cultural context but holds on to 
the assumption that artifacts are inserted in culture, and of a 
different substance than culture is. In Western history, art and 
technology were once the same concept, reflected in a single 
term, but then divided. Art retained the association with cul- 
ture.^^ Technology remains culture no less, and a fully elastic 
dimension of it. Tools are messages about their users across time 
and space. Artifacts are the signs that go ahead of us even into the 
entirely symbolic palimpsest of outer space, where there is noth- 
ing to control with the technology available to us, just as the 
communicative appearance of the earliest surviving human 
tools on our own planet signifies the chronological beginning of 

I would connect technology to ritualized communication by 
making more explicit the concreteness of the connection be- 
tween bodies and technology. Technology is that aspect of 
culture we handle with our bodies, as Marx and McLuhan both 
recognized. Further, it could be argued that the action and 
interaction of bodies is the paradigmatic heart of oral culture. 
According to this perspective, what is most characteristic of oral 
culture is not that its medium is language, a notion that survives 
as a legacy of structuralist ideas about mind, but the body in all 
its expressive manifestations, including speech. Oral culture 
cannot go away so long as human beings have visually, factually, 
and aurally perceptible, and perceiving, bodies. We have some- 
times regarded technology as "opposed" to the body, and it may 
certainly be interpreted that way in a particular system of 
meaning, but technology is never not integrally connected to the 
body, and this may be one of the most interesting things to 
understand about it. The link between symbolizing minds and 
symbolically loaded artifacts is through bodies in any case. 
Shoshana Zuboff makes this explicit in her arresting and useful 
definitionof technology as intelligence applied to the problem of 
the body, and in her notion of "acting-with" and "acting-on" 
technologies, which characterize the body's relationship to the 
technology.^® We can add for the purpose of conducting social 

17. In the same way that technology was considered an art, art has been 
considered a technology. See Miriam Levin, "The Wedding of Art and Science 
in Late Eighteenth Century France," Journal of Eighteenth-Century Life 7 (May 
1982): 54-73. 

18. Shoshana Zuboff, /n the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power 
(New York: Basic, 1988), 22. 

226 AJ/Fall 1990 

relations that have significance with respect to other bodies that 
are present and absent. To offer a very modest example, how the 
television set is arranged in the home — in what room and in 
what position with respect to the bodies that will gather around 
it — helps signal what families wish to say about themselves to 
each other and to visitors. Such local practices are richly expres- 
sive to those who observe them. 

These concerns aside, Carey has served us all, students and 
colleagues, and the field as a whole, in these published essays, 
which faithfully reflect both the medium and the message of his 
writing. His is the discursive art, conversation consciously 
opposed to a style of social science writing that fetishizes dead 
language stripped of the power of the personal body-based com- 
munication that speech is, in favor of a dep>ersonalized, disem- 
bodied language that removes it from the individual body at the 
heart of perception and experience on the grounds that linguistic 
subjectivity is to be distrusted and its metaphorical resources 
avoided. We have learned a great deal from Carey's critical gaze 
at how mass media and other messages are connected to deeper 
structures of social life. I would not ask him to shift his gaze, and 
like others, will look forward to more descriptions of the view. 
But if we are to realize some of the implications of his sturdiest 
pronouncements about the ritual features of all human action in 
the world, I think there is a still unexplored and rewarding world 
of technological practice, pervasive in modern lives, to be seen 
up close and in ritual terms. Not that I think the explication of this 
world is Jim Carey's job. I do think his ideas will help make it 


James Carey's Search for an Ethic 
for Communication Studies 

Jerilyn S. Mclntyre 

THIS COLLECTION OF ESSAYS, written over a span of a 
generation, reminds us how long and how compellingly James 
Carey has been a voice arguing for an alternative view of the role 
and significance of the mass media in our society. 

The litany of Carey's contributions to our field has been 
recited many times before: by taking an anthropological, cul- 
tural approach to the study of communication, he has chal- 
lenged sharply some of the long-standing traditions and as- 
sumptions of communication research and has articulated a 
position for communication scholars within American cultural 
studies. For communication historians, he has also raised ques- 
tions about the elitist, institutional orientation of journalism 
history, and he has provided a conceptual bridge to recent devel- 
opments in social, cultural, and intellectual history. 

Yet, despite all that Carey has admittedly contributed in the 
above ways, to this point, his work has been assimilated into the 
tradition of American communication history and communica- 
tion studies without our directly confronting the inherently 
radical statement he makes about other approaches to the study 
of communication, and especially about their epistemology, 
their politics, and their ethics. 

To communication research generally, his challenge is both 
epistemological and ontological. Carey contests the assump- 
tions and accepted priorities of some of the major directions in 
communication research — notably the effects tradition and 
administrative research. In "Overcoming Resistance to Cultural 
Studies," he even asserts that "the central tradition of effects 
research has been a failure on its own terms."^ The effects 
tradition, he contends, is based on objectivist assumptions about 
the nature of reality and the forces that act on individuals and 

1. James Carey, Communication As Culture (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 91-92. 

• • • • • 

Jerilyn S. Mclntyre 
is vice-president 
for academic af- 
fairs and profes- 
sor of comnfiunlc9- 
tion at the Univer- 
sity of Utafi. As in- 
terim president of 
that university 
during the sum- 
mer of 1991, she is 
the first woman 
president in the 
school's 141 -year 

228 AJ/Fall 1990 


shape individual action — assumptions defined through behav- 
iorism and functionalism. Carey suggests instead that reality 
should be conceived of in "expressivist" terms, as a product of 
human language and communication practices. The purpose of 
communication research should therefore not be to predict or 
identify consequences. It should be to diagnose and understand 
the multitude of texts that humans produce; in Carey's words, to 
"enlarge the human conversation by understanding what others 
are saying."^ 

The dichotomy between objectivist and expressivist interpre- 
tations is developed at length in his discussion of transmission 
and ritual models, where he distinguishes between communica- 
tion as, on the one hand, representational — transporting infor- 
mation, or extending control through the distribution of infor- 
mation — and, on the other hand, as interactive — creating and 
confirming the social process. Arguing for a "ritual" view of 
communication, Carey takes the position that knowledge and 
meaning, and even reality, are created through shared belief and 
the building of consensus — through discourse, not the dissemi- 
/ nation of objective "news" or "facts." Although Carey is not the 
first or the only scholar to have espoused these ideas, his ritual 
model introduced a non-objectivist, interactive view of human 
communication to our field, and articulated the need to under- 
stand journalistic texts as among the many ways that humans 
create meaning. 

That conception of journalistic texts is, in turn, at the heart of 
Carey's contribution to communication history, where his chief 
challenge has been to the traditional narrative we have told 
ourselves and our students. A recent issue of the Journal of 
American History devoted to the study of "memory" in American 
history provides a framework within which to assess that contri- 
bution. History, JAH editor David Thelen noted, is a form of 
memory, through which past experiences are reconstructed and 
reconstituted in a way that shapes and influences a culture's 
"core identities."^ What Carey has done is to hold up to question 
the journalistic profession's memory of itself, and, with that, its 
"core identity," including its implicit faith in an historical "idea 
of progress," and its focus on the major individuals and institu- 
tions who are presumed to have contributed to the growth and 
progress of the mass media in society. Suggesting the need to 
consider something other than what he called the Whig view of 
history and its progressive model of our society and its institu- 
jltions, he posits a more complex interaction between the media 
'' and the public. 

Carej^s conception of public communication encompasses all 
of the forms of expression that create meaning and community. 

2. Carey, Communication As Culture, 62. 

3. David Thelen, "Memory and American History," Journal of American History 
75 (March 1989): 1117-20. 

Mclntyre 229 

Journalism is but one text among many. In making this point, 
Carey underlines the importance of situating journalistic con- 
ventions and practices within the context of all of the other 
cultural forms out of which public discourse and public culture 
emerge. Further, he emphasizes that what we find in those texts '^ 
is not simply "information" or "data" — grist for influencing and 
informing the public — ^but the symbolic dialogue that creates 
and sustains knowledge and ways of knowing in a culture. 

His attention to the multiplicity of texts and the multivocality 
of culture links him, and links the field of communication 
history, with some of the most stimulating work currently being 
done in "mainstream" history among cultural and intellectual 
historians, particularly in studies of literacy, reading, and popu- / 
lar culture. His emphasis on the cultural meaning and symbolic 
import of technologies and technological change also mirrors 
ideas developed by historians investigating the symbolic status 
or symbol-generating capacities of technology. 

By far the most resonant of the themes from mainstream 
history, however, is one that shares Carey's conception of modes 
of thought as symbolic processes through which the social order 
is confirmed and maintained. That conception evokes the mean- 
ing in the word mentalites, a term defined by cultural historian 
Robert Damton as " not merely what people th ought but how 
they tho ught — ^how they c onstrued the world, mvested it with 
me aning, and infu sed it with emotion?^ ^SnotKer" writer 
characterizes mentalites provocatively as "'what was 'thinkable' 
in a human collective at a given moment in time."^ 

Our culture's mentalites — what is thinkable or knowable at 
this moment in time — is at the crux of Carey's critique of Ameri- 
can communication history and communication research. See- 
ing the role of communication as creating or confirming "what 
is thinkable," he raises to the level of discussion and debate 
questions about the impact of technology and technological 
change on the mentalites of our culture. He thus makes those 
concerns the central problematics of communication studies. 

Those are, for example, the problematics of interest to Carey 
and John J. Quirk in "The History of the Future," in their 
distinction between information and knowledge. They claim 
that knowledge is more than simply the distribution of informa- 
tion — it is a way of conceiving Ihe^world. Thus, when they 
suggest the need to be mindful of the impact that new technolo- 
gies have on ways of thinking, on language, on human action, 
their apprehension is shaped by their conviction that new tech- 
nologies can become monopolies of knowledge, controlled by 

4. Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural 
History (New York: Basic, 1984), 3. 

5. Frank Manuel, quoted in William Gilmore, Reading Becomes a Necessity of Life: 
Material and Cultural Life in Rural New England, 1 780-1 835 (Knoxville: University 
of Tennessee Press, 1989), 7. 

230 AJ/Fall 1990 

the new priests of social science, higher education and research: 
When one speaks, let us say, of the monopoly of reli- 
gious knowledge, of the institutional church, one is 
not referring to the control of particles of information. 
Instead, one is referring to control of their entire 
system of thought, or paradigm, that determines 
what it is that can be religiously factual, that deter- 
mines what the standards are for assessing the truth 
of any elucidation of these facts, and that defines 
what it is that can be accounted for as knowledge. 
Modem computer enthusiasts may be willing to share 
their data with anybody. What they are not willing to 
relinquish as readily is the entire technocratic world 
view that determines what qualifies as an acceptable 
or valuable fact. What they monopolize is not the 
body of data itself but the approved, certified, sanc- 
tioned, official mode of thought — ^indeed the defini- 
tion of what it means to be reasonable.* 
The fear of Carey and Quirk is that, because the "approved, 
certified, sanctioned, official mode of thought" derives from the 
activities of life as they are p)ortrayed, represented, and ex- 
pressed in a society's forms of public discourse, changes in the 
technology of that discourse can significantly affect or even 
transform what is collectively "thinkable" in a culture. This is not 
the cause-effect argument of the transmission model of commu- 
nication; it is a more organic sense of subtle shifts in patterns of 
belief, ways of knowing, ways of perceiving. 

A commercially based, technocratic worldview thus shapes 
the definition of culture generally, and of scholarship (as well as 
other kinds of thinking) specifically. The practical and political 
consequences of the relationship between such a worldview and 
our ways of thinking are troubling. The problem, however, is not 
with commercialization per se, or technology per se, since both 
of these can be forces for good in our society. It is with the un- 
questioning assumption that these are inevitabilities — i.e., that 
Jtechnology is inevitab ly equated with progress, and economic 
gruwthinevitably creates a better life. To the contrary, commer- 
cialization can become a control that reduces the variety of 
content available as part of the public dialogue, or it may distort 
that content, or restrict access to less popular forms of expression 
or alternative arguments. There may also be technological or 
economic barriers to the sharing of knowledge, requiring that a 
price must be paid for access, in the form of either having to own 
a piece of the technology of knowledge distribution or having to 
be trained in its use. Even more fundamentally, the depth and 
breadth of what is knowable in our culture can be constricted 
because our commercially based public communication system 

6. Carey, Communication As Culture, 194. 

Mclntyre 231 

increasingly dictates that content should be abbreviated or spe- 
cialized — fragmented rather than comprehensive, trivial rather 
than thoughtful. 

Phrased this way, such concerns may still focus our attention 
too much on consequences of technological change and com- 
mercialization. That is not my intention, because the force of 
Carey's ideas is diminished if they are regarded only as a plea to 
look for evidence of cultural consequences of our media rather 
than other kinds. Their thrust is also blunted if they are treated 
simply as an "alternative perspective" on an agreed-upon set of 
cultural practices and priorities when they are, in fact, an essen- 
tially radical critique of those practices and priorities. 

The question is then, what does the intertwining of techno- 
logical forms and media content portend for us culturally? What 
does it portend for our ways of knowing; for our ability to 
dissect, reconstruct, and assimilate information; for our own 
adaptability to other ways of knowing or thinking? 

The application of this line of questions to scholarly modes of 
thought identifies other issues of power, status, and control. The 
fundamental methodological claim Carey advances is that all in- 
tellectual fields are ideologies. Thus, he calls us to examine the 
i deologies i mpli cit m the transrnission model or thelSnctionalist 
approachJo^mng_research and assessing the impact of our 
conimuriication^systems. Further, he tries to make us realize that 
the~cohceptual boundaries of what he calls the transnnission 
model not only inhibit scholarly understanding of the subtle 
interactions between technologicaLcbanges and puj?lic discourse, 
but they also impxjse limits on "what is thinkable" politically and 

Carey's stance is clear and consistent: monopolies of knowl- 
edge control ways of knowing and participating in the public 
discourse essential to the formation of political community and 
culture. They also account for the dominance of the functionalist 
approach as the paradigm for undertaking and interpreting 
research — a paradigm that I would argue sustains, and is sus- 
tained by, the econon-iic and technocratic imperatives driving 
other major cultural institutions in twentieth century American 
society as well. (Anyone who doubts this has never sat in on 
university discussions of technology transfer policies and prac- 
tices.) The transmission model, in other words, dominates broader 
social assumptions about communication and does much to 
shape popular, scholarly, and governmental responses to tech- 
nological innovation, and to conunercialization and economic 
consolidation of our system of mass communication. 

It is ironic that, in critiques of Carey's arguments, he and those 
who have been influenced by his ideas have been asked to "take 
the next step" and "operationalize" his model of communica- 
tion — a term derived from the very research paradigm he is 
asking us to set aside. It could be said, however, that the task of 

232 AJ/Fall 1990 

getting our field to question that paradigm and its premises is 
already daunting enough. 

Be that as it may, what is Carey's major contribution to 
communication research and communication history? I would 
arguejhat his cultural approach or ritual model is an ethic of 
commumcation study in which the first step is to acknowledge 
the political and cultural implications of the interrelationships 
among technology, power and the control of information, and 
their impact on "ways of thinking" in our culture. Pointing out 
the connection between cultural ways of thinking or ways of 
knowing and forms of expression, he asks us to see texts as 
windows on social action as well as forms of expression con- 
trolled by authority — monopolies of knowledge created by 
monopolies of power. He is asking us to change our own 
worldview — our way of conceiving the problem at hand. Until 
we can, there is no next step. 



On the Relation of Technology and Culture 
in James Carey's Thought 

Michael Schudson 

AS BEST AS I CAN RECALL, I met James Carey's students 
before I met James Carey. This seems to me fitting: Carey has 
been above all else a teacher. 

A teacher, according to a wonderful essay by the late Bartlett 
Giamatti, is someone who chooses. A teacher chooses and so 
organizes choices for students. That is what Carey has done as 
the intellectual leader of the communication program at the Uni- 
versity of Illinois for the past two decades. He is not for the most 
part an original scholar in a "research" mode. While he has done 
research on the telegraph and its reception, that work, it seems 
to me, has never come to fruition. As in the concluding essay in 
Communication As Culture, it is a set of provocative suggestions 
for research more than a disciplined pursuit of the research itself. 

Instead, Carey's work is one of gathering thinkers and ideas 
, from various quarters — ^philosophy (John Dewey, Richard Rorty ), 
anthropology (Clifford Geertz), sociology (Robert Park, Emile 
Durkheim, George Herbert Mead), literary studies (Raymond 
Williams), the history of science (Thomas Kuhn), American 
studies (Leo Marx, Henry Nash Smith) — and demonstrating 
their relevance for the study of communication. It is as though he 
were putting together an all-star communications seminar, 
inviting players from any of the academic teams, so long as they 
are stand-outs at their positions. He thus brings into the center 
of communication studies the set of voices he feels we need to 
hear. He borrows, he synthesizes, he organizes without simpli- 
fying, he keeps up an insistent awareness of irony and complex- 
ity in a sonorous prose without tripping or stumbling or losing 
a sense of direction. He is a definer of fields, an organizer of 
inquiry, a traffic helicopter flying over the academic study of 
communication and identifying which way the traffic is moving 
and where there are bottlenecks and why. 

As a teacher, Carey has inspired students after his own heart. 

Michael Schudson 
is ptx>fessor in the 
Department of 
and the Depart- 
ment of Sociology 
at the University 
of California, San 
Diego. He is the 
author of Discov- 
ering the News 
(1978), Advertis- 
ing, the Uneasy 
Persuas/on (1984), 
and editor, with 
Chandra Mukerji, 
of Rethinldng 
Popular Culture 

234 AJ/Fall 1990 

scholars more likely to be serious and even inspiring teachers 
rather than researchers. Conning from a different academic 
tradition, I had some trouble recognizing this at first — that some 
of his finest students would themselves be not "serious scholars" 
in the vein I expect in the best Ph.D.s but dedicated teachers in 
the tradition of Carey himself, definers of fields and editors of 
journals and encouragers of yet further explorations of commu- 
nication as a symbolic process of representing and creating 

Carey's influence is easy to see but difficult to define precisely 
because he offers no blueprint. This is frequently the case in 
qualitative social research. Historians have found a way around 
this through a relatively rigid subdivision of their subject by 
nation and period and an insistence on the discipline of archival 
sources. Every history doctoral student must produce a disser- 
tation that burrows deeply into some library or libraries and 
rouses a librarian, curator, or archivist to disturb some stack of 
books or papers no one has looked at for decades, if ever. 
Communication as a field is not so neatly organized to channel 
relationships between teachers and their graduate students. 
Carey's students do not necessarily work on his subjects. For a 
James Carey, the merit of the work is inseparable from the style 
in which it is conveyed — and teaching style, while it can in fact 
be done, can scarcely be codified. 

This is not to suggest that Carey's thought is reducible to his 
style — it is much more than the lovely turns of phrase, more than 
the sometimes too-lingering appreciation of someone else's turn 
of phrase. What Carey offers is an approach to the study of 
communication, in particular the study of journalism, so radi- 
cally at odds with the usual practice in schools of communication 
and journalism that one wonders he has not been drummed out 
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Com- 
munication (let alone elected its president). His essays are per- 
haps as notable for what they do not quote and do not cite as for 
what they do. George Gerbner kindly praises this book on its 
back cover, but there's not a reference to Gerbner here. Nor to 
Wilbur Schramm, an even more striking omission when you see 
that Carey is here articulating a whole field — as did Schramm in 
his own day and in his own, incompatible, way. 

Incompatible, not just different. Carey does not quote or cite 
other "communication scholars" except in rare moments. His 
citations come from an invisible college of liberal philosophers 
and social scientists one would more likely find reviewed in the 
New York Review of Books (or writing for it) than on the ordinary 
syllabus in a mass communication course. Those he chooses are 
more than anything else seeking to define a moral discourse 
appropriate for modern society, not a social science discourse fit 
for inquiry into communication industries. That is what makes 
Carey's project incompatible with that of most other builders of 

Schudson 235 

social scientific institutions. They have sought science as an 
escape from moral discourse; Carey has a healthy skepticism for 
science and seeks to reconstitute a moral discourse. 

There is no real meeting ground here, so Carey does not 
marshal his facts and figures up against Schramm's or Gerbner's 
or Paul Lazarsfeld's or Ithiel de Sola Pool's or Herbert Schiller's. 
He is promoting sensibility, not research; his tastes, not his 
findings. But that is too cavalier a way to put it. The other way is 
to repeat what I said at the outset: he is seeking to teach. In doing 
so, he pursues not science but a relationship to an audience — 
usually a living one. Six of the eight essays in this volume first ap- 
peared in edited collections — and it is safe to assume that most 
or all of them were responses to a request for a paper. Carey ob- 
viously talks with the authors, living and dead, he admires — but 
when he puts these conversations on paper, it is almost always 
in the context of a living conversation with students and col- 

The quest for a moral discourse in communication studies can 
be described in another way. Sociologist Alan Wolfe has written 
recently of the sociologist's versus the political scientist's and 
economist's views of society, and he has argued that each 
presents an alternative rhetoric.^ Political scientists offer the 
state as salve to human needs, economists the market, and soci- 
ologists civil society. But the sociological vision, which Wolfe 
champions, does more than this: it argues that civil society 
constitutes human needs and desires to a large extent, a vision 
that economists and political scientists (especially the former) do 
not comprehend. For Wolfe and, in his view, for sociology 
rightly understood, moral obligation is "a socially constructed 
practice negotiated between learning agents capable of growth 
on the one hand and a culture capable of change on the other." 
It is to sociologists and the social constitution of meaning sys- 
tems and moral intuitions that Carey is most likely to turn, par- 
ticularly to the famous Chicago School. 

If Wolfe offers one frame for understanding Carey's moral 
vision, Robert Bellah and colleagues offer another in Habits of the 
Hearth If Wolfe's is a polemic against economists, Bellah's is a 
polemic against the self-actuating individualism that econo- 
mists (but not only economists) celebrate, the individualistic 
tradition of American marketplace democracy. While on one 
reading Bellah's can be seen as a particularly dispiriting vision 
of American society, it does suggest that the dominating "dis- 
course" of individualism is not unchallenged, that many Ameri- 
cans who operate within the world of individualist ethics where 
the prior reality of the individual over society is assumed also 

1. Alan Wolfe, Whose Keeper? Social Science and Moral Obligation (Berkeley: Uni- 
versity of California Press, 1989). 

2. Robert Bellah et al.. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in 
American Life (Uruversity of California Press, 1985). 

236 AJ/Fall 1990 

speak various "second languages" of communitarian ethics. 
They cite the bibhcal and civic republican traditions in particu- 
lar. In the republican tradition, for instance, citizens are moved 
by civic virtue, not just self-interest. Within communication 
studies, Carey can be seen as a spokesmen for all that these 
second languages represent, a champion especially for the dis- 
cursive space in which these languages can find expression. 

Now, this may be asking too much of a communication 
professor — ^reconstituting on a better and broader base the dis- 
course of modern society and modern social inquiry. But, I think 
Carey would be likely to ask, who better than someone who 
studies the news media? Who better than someone who has 
thought seriously about Harold Innis and Marshal McLuhan 
and the constitution of the self by systems of communication? 

In his important 1967 Antioch Review essay on Innis and 
McLuhan, which I wish had been reprinted in his book, Carey 
sides with Innis over McLuhan as a theorist of communication 
on three grounds.^ First, the focus of Innis is on the impact of 
communications technology on social organization while 
McLuhan emphasizes the impact of the media on "sensory" 
organization. Carey finds that Innis's claims are altogether more 
plausible and that, indeed, much of the evidence McLuhan 
gathers to suggest that new media reorganize the human senses 
can better be read to show that new media help reshape social 
organizations in certain predictable directions. Second, Innis is 
less deterministic than McLuhan, much more able to recognize 
the great amount of play any medium provides. Innis's case is 
that different media produce either a time-binding or space- 
binding bias to social organization; but to say they produce a 
"bias" is not to say that the bias will necessarily work itself out. 
Too many other factors come into account to make this claim. 
Third, Innis has a kind of backward-looking moral vision: he 
approves of oral culture and its bias toward preserving values 
and traditions. McLuhan, in contrast, was a forward-looking 
technocrat; that is, one who saw new technologies not providing 
a moral order but replacing any requirement for moral consid- 
eration. "For McLuhan, . . . modern technology obviates the 
necessity of raising moral problems and of struggling with 
moral dilemmas." For Carey, McLuhan thereby subverted the 
Innis legacy, turned it on its head, and abandoned altogether the 
raison d'etre of the human sciences. Carey finds McLuhan's 
position finally anti-human: "One cannot help being over- 
whelmed by its awful vulgarity, by its disconnection from 
whatever sources of joy, happiness, and tragedy remain in this 
world." McLuhan is not only a positivist (of a very bizarre breed) 
but one who finds in positivism a substitute for moral inquiry. 

3. James W. Carey, "Harold Adams Innis and Marshall McLiohan," Antioch 
Review 27 (Spring 1967): 5-37 . 

Schudson 237 

There is a lot to ponder here and many of the themes of 
Carey's later work are anticipated. With one notable exception, 
I think. Neither Innis nor McLuhan have a concept of culture. 
When Carey contrasts them, he contrasts a historical sociologist 
who studies the impact of technology on social and economic 
organization to a psychological prophet, who pronounces, 
sometimes brilliantly, on the impact of technology on mind and 
self. Carey notes that for Innis the impact of technology on mind 
and self is a minor theme and for McLuhan the impact of 
technology on social organization is a minor theme, but nowhere 
does either thinker — or Carey — provide some way to connect 
these themes. 

Carey would not, in fact, find the missing concept for half a 
dozen years. It rattled around in his beloved Dewey and the 
Chicago School, but it was chiefly articulated and came to take 
on an intellectual life of its own only when Clifford Geertz in his 
1973 Interpretation of Cultures advanced his version of it beyond 
the seminars of the anthropologists,* while Raymond Williams 
and Stuart Hall promoted their version of it, notably in a 1973 
conference in London that Carey attended. From these materi- 
als, Carey was able to build within American communication 
studies a platform for a cultural approach to the field. 

This volume is the best single place to find that viewpoint 
within communication studies articulated. It includes an impor- 
tant sampling of Carey's thought, and it gives an opportunity to 
think through a body of work that, until now, has only appeared 
in scattered publications strewn through the fields of communi- 
cation, journalism, American studies, and general criticism. 

The first four essays constitute a definition of the field of 
communication as Carey would like to see it, cultural studies as 
he has come to build it in the United States within communica- 
tion. The first essay, an extended meditation on John Dewey, 
develops the central distinction between a "transmission" model i/" 
and a "ritual" model of communication. This is th amost co ncise 
and compe lling statemejit of Carey's quarrel with conv entional 
communication research that, t o this day, takes the "transmis- 
sion" rriodenor granted, i ne second essay is a reflection on 

Cliltord Ueertz andwhat a communication scholar should find 
of interest in this multifaceted anthropologist. Carey is in a way 
to communication what Geertz is to anthropology — a sage, a 
mentor who urges colleagues not to be bamboozled by one 
reductionist snare or another but to keep always in mind what 
human beings are about — meaning-making, symbol-using, 
conversing creatures. 

The third essay takes up a confrontation between Walter 
Lippmann and John Dewey, Lippmann here seen as entranced 
by a scientific model in which the task of the press is representa- 

4. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic, 1973). 

238 AJ/Fall 1990 

tional accuracy while Dewey champions a view of the press as 
part of an ongoing democratic conversation. Lippmann is the 
advocate of the eye, Dewey of the ear — and, as we should expect 
by now, Carey, like Innis, is on the side of the ear. This section 
concludes with a 1986 essay on the American pragmatic tradi- 
tion represented by Dewey and more recently by Richard Rorty, 
and it shows, as the earlier papers did not, an explicit willingness 
in Carey to own his own Americanness (despite his attraction to 
some European thinkers, notably the Birmingham school of cul- 
tural studies) and a willingness, in a changing field of commu- 
nication studies, to see dangers of rigidity to his academic left as 
well as his Lazarsfeldian right. While he continues to attack 
mainstream communication research (he calls it "intellectually 
stagnant"), he insists, against some of his cultural studies col- 
leagues and the know-nothings who take any use of statistics to 
be prima fade reactionary, that students "articulate with, en- 
gage, and build upon the effects tradition we have inherited." He 
takes as puerile the view that the difference between "adminis- 
trative" and "critical" research is a difference between support- 
ing or criticizing the status quo. While he rejects Durkheimian 
functionalism as insensitive to relations of power and to social 
contradictions, he is equally critical of left-wing versions of 
cultural studies that would "reduce culture to ideology, social 
conflict to class conflict, consent to compliance, action to repro- 
duction, or communication to coercion." 

I think he is absolutely correct in all these judgments. I hope 
he may yet have more to say on this. My own sense is that 
cultural studies or critical studies in its academic incarnations 
today has reached a point of institutionalization that brings with 
it great opportunities but also great dangers. The dangers are 
that it will grow more inbred and speak increasingly in dialects 
of a semi-private and only semi-coherent sort. It does not yet 
equal much of the behaviorist tradition in mechanical mindless- 
ness, but it threatens to rival behaviorism in smugness. 

The second quartet of essays includes two that criticize what 
Carey, borrowing from Leo Marx, calls the "rhetoric of the elec- 
tronic sublime," one that is an extended portrait of the thought 
of Harold Innis, and a final discussion of the telegraph, the only 
essay in the volume that is directly a contribution to the history 
of a communication technology (rather than intellectual history, 
criticism, or intellectual biography). 

The disjunction between the two sets of essays is imjx)rtant. 
The trick for Carey is to find inspiration for communication as a 
field in the technological determinism or near-determinism of 
Innis and McLuhan that places communication at the center of 
the study of human society, while distancing himself from any 
view that makes the role of technology in human affairs com- 
pletely amenable to causal or functional analysis. That is, a 
technology (like the telegraph) is not just a cause with effects or 

Schudson 239 

a pulley with functions but a cultural creation that people ^,/^^ 
interpret as they use it. 

The "culture" of cultural studies, a la Carey, is hard to pin 
down. Is "culture" — conventionally and unconventionally un- 
derstood "texts" — the subject of study? Or is a "cultural" orien- 
tation emphasized in an approach to any variety of subjects? 
And if it is a "cultural" orientation, does this mean some form of 
post-structuralism that conceives social life as a set of texts, 
readings, and interpretations? That is one version. Or a view that 
emphasizes the power of ideology, recognizing power relations 
in the world and culture as a form and field of politics? That is a 
second version, one heavily but not exclusively Marxist. Or 
some anthropologically inspired notion of the complex inter- 
play of systems of symbols and systems of social relations? That 
is yet a third, distinct version. 

As I see it, all three versions coexist in cultural studies and 
communication. All three are at odds with the scientific preten- 
sions of traditional behaviorism. In Carey's own work, there is a 
willingness to listen to version 1 — but with little patience for the- 
ory-spinning removed from social practice. There is clearly 
some involvement with version 2 — but with no allegiance to the 
priority of class as an ontological category. For one thing, na- 
tions — both the Irish and the American — mean too much to 
Carey, and Marxist cultural studies has nothing useful to say 
about nationalism or national identity. For another, Carey's ear 
is just too acute, picking up echoes not only of class or privilege 
but of religion, region, schooling, psyche, and rhetorical situ- 
ation in the ideas he examines. And he is, after all, a respecter of 
ideas and intellect; ideas worthy of consideration are never 
ultimately merely covers for power. 

Version 3 is more congenial to Carey, but even here, he seems 
more an interpreter of Clifford Geertz than a user; when he uses 
cultural theory, it tends to come from a fourth, theoretically 
underdeveloped terrain: American studies and the "myth and 
symbol" school. T he "niyt h and symbol" school refers to the 
work of Henry Nash Smith^teo Marx, Alan Trachtenberg, and 
ofRers in the American studies movement, and was labeled as 
such by Bruce Kuklick in his 1972 critique of that school.^ Critical 
attack notwithstanding, Carey has borrowed from this school 
not only one of his central subjects — the response of American 
culture to technology and industrialism — ^but the school's seri- 
ousness about ideas, a devotional attention to key works (for the 
American studies scholars, Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain; 
above all, for Carey, a set of thinkers less concentrated in a single 
time and place — the Canadians Innis and McLuhan, the Ameri- 
cans Dewey and Geertz), and a respect for complexity and, as we 

5. Bruce Kuklick, "Myth and Symbol in American Studies," American Quarterly 
24 (October 1972): 435-50. 

240 AJ/Fall 1990 

say today, the "multivocality" or "dialogism" of texts. While 
Carey's perspective authorizes academic attention to popular 
culture, his own sensibility is not altogether ecumenical about 
cultural forms. The part of popular culture he attends to most 
persistently — the news — is centrally concerned in defining and 
shaping political action, and that is why he cares about it. He is 
not deeply interested in popular entertainment or resistant life 
styles that fail to engage articulately in dialog. His interest in 
Geertz is not that Geertz explicates the Balinese cockfight or that 
someone else might try the same approach with cricket or 
baseball but that Geertz provides an unusually powerful refuta- 
tion of behaviorist models of social research. 

Carey does not sort out the differences among these views of 
culture. I do not think he need do so. They are overlapping, not 
contradictory. Less happily, he does not sort out the relationship 
of these concepts of culture to the role of technology in society. 
The disjunction between the two sets of essays in this book is 
never really overcome — and let me make a suggestion about 
why. The essays on technology are too firmly rooted in the work 
of Harold Innis and others who did not understand culture. 
They are full of interesting commentary about the cultural 
response to technology, but in that formulation (as in the tele- 
graph essay), all the weight is on the telegraph and the cultural 
responses seem its pawns. The ways in which the use of the 
telegraph itself was culturally conditioned gets no exploration 
here at all. This is not just a matter of who owned and who used 
the telegraph but of how those owners and users (and others) 
conceived, imagined the technology they were learning to 
manage. Yes, as Carey emphasizes, the telegraph eliminated the 
distinction between transportation and communication; yes, it 
enabled the standardization of time zones and a reconceptuali- 
zation of time. But this was never (as Carey knows but does not 
in this essay adequately conceptualize) the telegraph as a tech- 
nology in itself; this was the telegraph as an economic asset in use 
in a particular culture with an unusual geography with a use for 
railroads, a passion for exploitation, and an impatience about [/ 

To take one small example: did "telegraphic" language de- 
velop in the same way in European uses of the telegraph? Or was 
the efficiency of telegraphic style something American culture 
was particularly prone to invent? Carey, like many others, ob- 
serves that the telegraph brought into existence the lean style 
Ernest Hemingway "learned as a correspondent." It is not so 
simple as that. I ha ve read reports from Washington in New York 
and Chicago newspapers fifty and seventy-five years after the 
first newspaper use of the telegraph, and that language remains 
by today's standards formal and florid. If the telegraph encour- 
aged a leaner style, it did nothing to assure its use. Mark Twain's 
invention of the vernacular in prose fiction may have been just 

Schudson 241 

as or more important a driving force to cultural change as the 
telegraph, in this respect. 

This is not to deny that some technologies have some logics of 
their own that give some direction to social and cultural change. 
It is to suggest that a proper understanding of culture will urge 
us not to believe in any such thing as technology-in-itself. 
Technology-in-use is organized by geography, by economics, by 
politics — and also by cultural presuppositions. It seems to me 
that is the lesson that part 1 of Carey's book offers Part 2, and that 
part 2 did not assimilate. 

What remains, in the end, is a body of thinking about technol- 
ogy, about culture, and most vitally and persuasively about 
other thinkers who write on technology and society and culture. 
This book offers only a portion of Carey's work — the most im- 
p)ortant missing element is his thinking on journalism and the 
news. That work could provide the core of the next book of Carey 
essays, a book I would expect to be as wonderfully graceful and 
as deeply engaged in the ongoing conversation of a democratic 
society as is this one. 



And a Defense of the Oral Tradition 

James W. Carey 

James W. Carey is 
dean of the College 
of Communica- 
tions at the Uni- 
versity of Illinois. 
While on leave 
during the spring 
of 1991, he was 
visiting scholar in 
the Poynter Insti- 
tute for Media 
Studies at St. Pe- 
tersburg, Florida. 

EVERY WRITER NEEDS, AND usually desires, a critic: Some- 
one to correct and complete his work via attentive reading of the 
text, nuanced understanding of both the said and unsaid, and a 
generous regard for the sheer struggle to get it right. What one 
usually acquires, however, are critics trained by Evelyn Wood, 
speed readers whose eyes never stop on a parenthetical expres- 
sion or qualifying phrase and who never understand that a critic 
is less an opponent than a collaborator in discourse. I have been 
rather more fortunate than I deserve in acquiring the three critics 
represented here, and, when one adds to them David Nord's 
careful, though firmly opposed, essay in Journalism History, I feel 
multiply blessed.^ 

The issues raised by Professors Schudson, Marvin, Mclntyre, 
and Nord, taken together, require an extended essay or even a 
short book for anything like the close analysis their thoughtful 
and sometimes telling comments deserve. While generosity and 
real collaboration demand nothing less, I must in this limited 
space restrict myself to a brief, abstract, and somewhat theoreti- 
cal commentary on the relation of technology and culture. This 
is the issue Schudson and Marvin find most in need of revision 
and on which they expend some good-natured but forceful 
badgering. I will not, then, treat the issues raised by Mclntyre 
and Nord, which relate most directly to journalism history. That 
I will save for a subsequent essay. Nor will I, though it often 
divides me strategically and morally from my critics, treat the 
relationship, implicit in my essays, between teaching, research, 
and, in my case, administration. Professor Schudson's com- 
ments on teaching and research leave me less than comfortable. 
For the last twenty years I have been an administrator who 

1. David Paul Nord, "A Plea for Journalism History, " Journalism History 15 
(Spring 1988): 8-15. 

simultaneously teaches and writes and, as a result, the essays in 
Communication As Culture are often a deflected meditation on the 
concrete practices of the academy. The keywords of the book — 
culture, communication, technology, community, time, and space — 
were thought through, first of all, in relation to the troubles 
characteristic of university life, and the style of scholarship 
therein reflects an attempt to hook up useful teaching and 
scholarship with the black arts of administration. 

Professor Schudson is correct that Communication As Culture 
breaks in half and there is an uneasy tension, never adequately 
faced, between the two portions of the book. Part 1 is a group of 
essays on cultural theory; part 2 is a group of essays on various 
problems in the analysis of communication technology. The two 
sections are related not as theory and application but as point 
and counterpoint, as two halves of a somewhat discordant 
conversation I carry on with myself. This disjunction and tension 
comes about because I have been unable to seamlessly integrate 
the terms that dominate the two sections, culture and technol- 
ogy, and, to my knowledge, neither has anyone else. When I 
started to write about these problems, the terms technology and 
culture occupied the position in my thought that base and super- 
structure took up in another tradition: the relation between the 
forces of production and the thing produced. Of all the meta- 
phors with which we describe modem society — the consumer 
society, post-industrial, late capitalist, the society of the spec- 
tacle — the technological society, freed of the some of the conno- 
tations suggested by Jacques EUul, best captures the drift and 
direction of contemporary life. Thus, the essays seek to over- 
come, albeit hesitantly and clumsily, the opposition between 
technology and culture. As a result, I can find no useful distinc- 
tion between "technology in itself" and "technology in use," 
though I am not blind to the unintended consequences of tech- 
nology. Whatever defects remain in the resulting analysis do not 
derive from the legacy of Harold Innis, "who did not understand 
culture." Innis remains, or so I stubbornly believe, the single 
greatest student of communications on this continent, and my 
essays aim to develop the cultural theory, centered in technol- 
ogy, implicit in his work. 

Professor Schudson notes of my work that "all the weight is 
on the technology and the cultural responses seem its pawn." 
But this, again, is to draw the very distinction between technol- 
ogy and culture I wish to deny: that the world can be divided into 
technological actions and cultural responses. Similarly, it makes 
no sense to sp)eak of how the "telegraph was culturally condi- 
tioned," as if the world is made up of unconditioned material 
artifacts and cultural conditioners. 

Let me try to straighten out the technology-culture relation 
via a series of indirect and flanking moves that I hope speak to 
the concerns of my critics. 

244 AJ/Fall 1990 

Among the many valued legacies from the work of the French 
anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss is his long struggle to over- 
come the traditional distinction between nature and culture. 
Against the view that nature stands whole and complete outside 
of language, that we speak a language transparent to nature, that 
we speak the language nature intended us to speak, Levi-Strauss 
argued that nature was, at the least, doubly articulated. First, 
nature was an inscribed system of meanings formed out of 
binary oppositions. In every act of apprehension nature was 
ingested into culture because nature had to be articulated through 
a code, a code that was never the only one possible or useful. 
Once articulated into a code — once animals, for example, were 
arrayed via some system of meaning into hierarchy and given to- 
temic representation — natural objects become not just things of 
the world but things to think with. Thus, the model of the 
relations among animals could become a secondary model of the 
relations between human societies: totemic representation of 
clans served as a model of society. The distinction between 
nature and culture is, therefore, always latent in customary 
attitudes and behavior but it is a principal of language, not of the 
world. There is no way for us to get beneath or outside of lan- 
guage, to encounter an unmediated real. In effacing, then, the 
line between nature and culture, Levi-Strauss simultaneously 
effaced all the other dualisms that grew out of it: the distinction 
between the subjective and the objective, the self and the other, 
truth and opinion, the real and the fantastical. This is the line of 
attack, now quite common, which I appropriated in cultural 
studies to, as Schudson correctly points out, overcome the be- 
haviorist model of social research, and, also, to overcome the 
standard model for the writing of journalism history. 

When I began writing, the phrase "technology and culture" 
had displaced the phrase "nature and culture" because the built 
and constituted environment had taken over from the natural 
one as the situs within which we live our lives. However, the 
opposition of technology and culture continued the older dispo- 
sition at the core of modem thinking. That is, technology was 
assimilated to the mental pole once occupied by nature; technol- 
ogy was the site of the real, the true, the other, the natural, and 
the objective. On this view, technology was not created but dis- 
covered; it was found lying artlessly about in the bosom of 
nature, encased in a series of geological deposits uncovered in a 
routine of excavating the natural. Thus one excavation, one 
discovery, begat another so that technologies emerged in the 
order of nature intended them to be discovered. And, in turn, 
human history was conceived as a long series of technological 
discoveries: the age of iron or bronze or the neotechnic and pale- 
otechnic eras, or the industrial age and the electronic age. The 
entire human story was written off the metaphor of technology 
thereby effectively treating, as Lewis Mumford never tired of 

Carey 245 

pointing out, all our haphazard achievements in language, art 
religion, moral regulation, and governance as so many epiphe- 

A lovely phrase of William James, one that anticipates Levi- 
Strauss, condenses in an image a more useful relation of technol- 
ogy and culture. In speaking of nature James said, the trail of the 
serpent is overall and the serpent is us. What is left of nature is 
what we have decided to leave; there is virtually no reach of 
nature unmarked by, untraced by the human mind. Technology 
is, to twist a phrase of Ernest Cassirer, the place of the mind in 
nature or, better, the place of human practices in nature. 

In short, just as there is no nature here and culture there as 
walled off categories, there is no technology here and culture 
there, no meaningful sense of technology in itself and technol- 
ogy in use. Technology is thoroughly cultural from the outset. 
The mind of Levi-Strauss's primitives acted by detaching 
objects from the place of their found occurrence, bringing them 
forward and attaching a meaning to them. So, distinctions 
among animals, distinctions between day and night, land and 
water, male and female — what wecan still call, ala Mary Douglas, 
natural symbols however culturally coded — were fixated with a 
meaning that could then become a secondary modelling system. 
We of a presumably more advanced tribe think less by manipu- 
lating the surface features of the world, though we do a lot of 
that, and more by layering the environment with abstractions 
(simulated systems of digitized meaning, for example). We also 
have become more adept at penetrating into the body of nature 
and coercing it to behave in accord with our abstractions. We 
have created then a secondary shell, inside nature, which consti- 
tutes our environment. This built environment both shields us 
from and coerces the natural. However, this activity is thor- 
oughly cultural and not some means of getting in touch with our 
real, that is, natural selves. 

Technology is cultural, then, in a number of distinct senses. 
First, technology is a creation and therefore an expression of »^ 
human purposes. It embodies concrete lifeways and anticipates 
that which it pretends to mirror. In this sense technology is a 
symbol o/(it represents how the world works) and a symbol /or 
(it coerces the world into working in terms of the representa- 
tion). Second, once constituted technology must be propitiated. 
In his Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell compares the 
modem dilemma with that of primitive peoples: 

For the prinutive hunting peoples of those remotest 
human millenniums when the saber-tooth tiger, the 
mammoth and the lesser presences of the animal 
kingdom were the primary manifestations of what 
was alien — the source at the once of danger and of 
sustenance — the great human problem was to be- 
come linked psychologically to the task of sharing 

246 AJ/Fall 1990 

the wilderness with these beings. An unconscious 
identification took place, and this was finally ren- 
dered conscious in the half human, half animal fig- 
ures of the totem-ancestors . . . through acts of literal 
imitation ... an effective annihilation of the human 
ego was accomplished and society achieved a cohe- 
sive organization.^ 
We are not spared, in a technological age, from the need to 
annihilate the ego, to merge it into its environment. To twist 
some unlikely lines of Marshall McLuhan, if people in earlier 
ages quelled their terror by putting on animal strait jackets, we 
unconsciously do the same thing vis a vis the machine. As 
humans ritually and psychologically got into animal skins so we 
have already gone much of the distance toward assuming and 
propagating the behavior mechanisms of the machines that both 
menace and sustain us. Kenneth Burke observed during the 
New York electrical blackout that if it continued for long humans 
would pray for electricity as others prayed for rain. And, in 
moments of massive technological breakdowns, such as the 
Challenger explosion, there is always a predictable search for 
human error. How can the machines, on which we have staked 
our lives, fail us? 

The rituals of theory themselves are ways of propitiating 
technology. If human imagination operates mainly by a process 
of analogy, a "seeing-as" comprehension of the less intelligible 
by the more (the universe is a hogan, the world a wedding) the 
main source of modem analogy (the brain is a computer) is 
technology itself. Nowhere is this more vivid than in the subject 
Carolyn Marvin mentions, the human body. That body is no 
longer seen as the expression of divine purpose or the site of an 
individual soul but as a scientific field and a Utopian fantasy. By 
analogy, the body has been understood as a particular kind of 
machine. This understanding is not merely a symbol or meta- 
phor of the body but a symbol and metaphor for the body. The 
effort to harness the "human motor" has transformed our under- 
standing of work, society, and modernity itself. As Anson 
Rabinbach's The Human Motor demonstrates, the motorized 
view of the body gave rise to a particular scientific Utopia: the 
vision of society without fatigue, arrest, or wearing out.^ Alas, 
our bodies consistently disappoint us as we seek in technology 
an antidote to our anxiety of limits. 

It is this integral view of the technology/culture couplet that 
the essays in Communication As Culture slowly discover and em- 
body. There is no notion of technological determinism here for 
that view requires an argument from an independent to a 

2. Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton 
University Press, 1949), 390. 

3. Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of 
Modernity (New York: Basic, 1990). 

Carey 247 

dependent variable. Rather, it is a view that characterizes tech- 
nological artifacts, at least in a provisional and hypothetical way, 
as homunculi: concrete embodiments of human purposes, social 
relations, and forms of organization. To view technology as 
homunculus suggests that certain technologies or certain arti- 
facts imaginatively constitute, express, and compress into them- 
selves the dominant features of the surrounding social world. A 
homunculus is a society writ small. It is also the human person 
writ small insofar as it serves not merely as a template for 
producing social relations but a template for producing human 
nature as well. 

This is not, as mentioned, a question of determination or 
causality, at least in any normal sense. There is absolutely no 
suggestion that the computer or the printing press or the tele- 
graph causes or determines the essential features of society or 
human nature. But they do not, to use Raymond Williams's 
rewriting of the notion of determination, merely set limits or 
create pressures. When technology functions as a master sym- 
bol, it operates not as an external and causal force but as a 
blueprint: something that makes phenomena intelligible and 
through that intelligibility sets forth the conditions for its secon- 
dary reproduction. Once adopted as fact and symbol, as a model 
of and instrument for, it works its independent will not by virtue 
of its causality but by virtue of its intelligibility or textuality: its 
ability to realize an aesthetically pleasing, politically regnant, 
socially powerful order of things. 

For Durkheim the totem served as a homunculus; for Marx it 
was the commodity. My argument has been that for the modem 
p)eriod technology as a gross complex (mechanics, electronics) or 
as particular artifacts (printing press, computer), better suits the 
purpose of analysis. But it must be technology seen less a s a 
physicalcQntrivanceifianasajcultural performance: more on the 
model of a theatre that contains and shapes our interaction than 
a natural force acting upon us from the outside. David Bolter 
catches something of that cultural performance in his notion of 
a defining technology: 

A defining technology develops links, metaphorical 
or otherwise, with a culture's science, philosophy, or 
literature; it is always available to serve as a meta- 
phor, example, model or symbol. A defining technol- 
ogy resembles a magnifying glass, which collects and 
focuses seemingly disparate ideas in a culture into 
one bright, sometimes piercing ray. Technology does 
not call forth major cultural changes by itself, but it 
does bring ideas into a new focus be explaining or 
exemplifying them in new ways to large audiences.* 

4. David Bolter, Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age (Chapel Hill: 
University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 11. 


248 AJ/Fall 1990 

Henry Adams's image of the dynamo, a condensation symbol 
of a whole array of power technologies, better served as homun- 
culus for the late nineteenth century. Power technology effected 
the very displacements — the removal of time, place and vision — 
that laid thegroundworkfor the creation of commodities. But in- 
formation technology, by the time of the Grundrisse and Capital, 
had already begun its displacement of power technology as the 
homunculus of industrial civilization. This was the argument I 
applied to the telegraph in the book: the separation of commu- 
nication from transportation and their reintegration through a 
switched circuit provided the model of social organization for 
the 1840s onward. Today, power machines are no longer agents 
on their own, subject only to direct human intervention; now 
they must submit to the hegemony of the computer that coordi- 
nates their effects. And that is why Bolter says that: 

As a calculating machine, a machine that controls 
machines, the computer does occupy a special place 
in our cultural landscape. It is the technology that 
more than any other defines our age. . . . For us today, 
the computer constantly threatens to break out of the 
tiny corner of human affairs (scientific measurement 
pT^*" I and business accounting) that it was built to occupy, 

J^ to contribute instead to a general redefinition of 

^ ^ certain basic relationships: the relationship of science 

to technology, of knowledge to technical power, and, 
in the broadest sense, of mankind to the world of 
There is one last matter to be treated. Professor Marvin is 
disturbed by a note of romanticism in my essays particularly 
when I follow Harold Innis and John Dewey and valorize the 
voice and the oral tradition, the community and public life. She 
is gentle and generous in voicing this frequent charge and that I 
much appreciate. She is right in one sense. I am no believer in an 
unconditional notion of technological progress, and the essays 
on the electronic revolution, the rhetoric of the electrical sub- 
lime, and the history of the future attempt to demonstrate why. 
L believe that ^]]3odal^hapge,ii\cludingj£iJmQlQgic^l^ange, 
invo lves genu jne^gaing and losses. Nothing is costless. The 
spread of literacy, while a spectacular achievement, meant that 
certain capacities had to atrophy and valuable experience was 
lost. Like all pragmatists, I cannot shake a somewhat tragic view 
of life: that the biggest technological disappointment is a techno- 
logical prayer answered. Technology cannot reconcile conflict- 
ing interests and values. No matter how intelligent and humane 
our choices there are, William James insists, "real losses and real 
losers." We live in a dangerous and adventurous and serious 
world, James goes on to say, and "the very seriousness we 

5. Bolter, Turing's Man, 8-9. 


attribute to life means that ineluctable noes and losses form part 
of it, there are genuine sacrifices and that something perma- 
nently drastic and bitter always remains at the bottom of the 
cup."^ James's tragic sense is not only central to pragmatism, but 
it provides an illuminating perspective from wWch to survey the 
problems and predicaments of people. 

Thus, I believe that th e technol ogical reorg anization of life in 
the' moaem world nuj^^^imandiQSse.s, andTsuch 
lossps^p ahhrgyjat^ln phrasf^s like the "'loss of community" 
andTEHe "'decay of democracy." It is not that we lost something we 
once had but that we have been robbed of the illusion that we will 
ever have it. The losses are continuously disguised by cultural 
work, by phrases like " technological progress" and "cultur al 
_lag/' Art and literature, theory and practice are often attempts 
to scorch over the past, to rob it of a possible order of value, to 
render older lifeways in the town and village not merely archaic 
but destitute. Our entire life, propelled by technological culture, 
has been an attempt to escape the constraints of the proximate. 
The achieved view of the small town as the unrelieved seat of 
barrenness and bigotry, class conflict and exploitation, is just 
that: an achieved cultural construction. The creation of a modem 
and national society required a burning over of an agricultural 
society and the small town credo that justified it. Just as the 
emergence of the postmodern depends on the iconoclastic de- 
struction of the modem in all its forms, the emergence of the 
modem and progressive era relied upon the denigration of that 
phase of history that immediately preceded it. Americans are, of 
course, congenital creators of community, cities on a hill, who 
then promptly try to figure a way to get out of town . 1 echnology, 
in the cultural sense I have been characterizing it, is the vehicle 
by which this never successful transcendence is carried through. 
We never quite transcend time and space for we run into our 
limits: diurnal animals need, for a significant px)rtion of each 
day, a safe and protected place. Nonetheless, we have chosen at 
every point the national over the local, the distant over the 
proximate, the private over the public, and the bureaucratic over 
the communal. ^~~-^-^ 

But that aside, there is a deeper reason fo«.valorizi^)the oral, ^^ ^' 
public, and communal, and using those notions^tcTcntique the 
printing p ress, the c ompu ter, and the information society. One 
frequently hears expressions such as "the problem is not the 
technology but the uses to which we put it" or "it is not the 
technology but the values which govern it." Such phrases repro- 
duce the image of natural technology and artificial culture. But 
again, this assumes we are dealing with two separate things — 
technology here and culture there. The phrases assume there is 

6. As dted by Sidney Hook, Pragmatism and the Tragic Sense of Life (New York: 
Basic, 1974), 5. 

250 AJ/Fall 1990 

some archimedean point outside of technology by which tech- 
nology can be critiqued, or controlled or subject to some order of 
purposes. But there is no such archimedean point. We can think 
of technology only within the massive assumptions of modern 
thought. To think values, to even use the word, is to be within 
such assumptions. Modern moral striving, as George Grant has 
put it, the striving to create free and equal human beings, leads 
inevitably back to a trust in the expansion of that very technology 
we are attempting to judge.^ The development of modem soci- 
ety required the criticism of all older standards of human excel- 
lence. The social has at its heart the overcoming of chance, and 
that overcoming leads us to judge every situation as solvable in 
terms of technology. In other words, we have available to us no 
ethicso r valu es or mor als or purposes with which to j udge 
technology bec ause our noHpns of value, morality, and purpose 
havebeen forged in the same cultural[container with the technol- 
""o^^Technology and value are merely two sides oT the same 
C5ih, which is why phrases like "journalism ethics" or "techno- 
logical values" seem an oxymoron and why Alsadair Maclntyre 
characterizes the entire modern period as "after virtue."^ 

While this is generally true, it is particularly true in the United 

I States, for we are the only society that has no history of its own 

' from before the age of progress. We are a nation created out of 

modem technology and we define ourselves in its image. That, 

in a way, is our tragedy but one we cannot easily accept. 

Innis's emphasis on the oral tradition, the need for a bias of 
time (and a form of communication appropriate to it) to offset the 
bias of space, was an attempt to hold on to and rejuvenate the 
only tradition older than the mechanics available to us, namely 
the republican tradition. The oral and republican tradition proves 
almost impossible to understand any longer for it is a tradition 
that predates the modem technological world. Our attempts to 
think outside of the technical complex take less the form of 
romantic nostalgia than of futurism. But the future always turns 
out to be a site where all "cultural lags" have disappeared and all 
notions of value and purpose have been absorbed into the 
monotechnical system of electronics. 

The oral tradition is not simply a group of people sitting 
around chatting one another up but a homunculus for an entire 
way of life that if institutionalized might provide some means of 
offsetting the bias of modem technology. The point is not to 
eliminate technology (no one wants that) but to contain or 
balance off its bias via an alternative principle and form of 
communication. The plea for time, for the oral tradition, for 
virtue is certainly a slim reed on which to hang much hope. But 
it is about all we have to contain the technology that is, in 

7. George Grant, Technology and Empire (Toronto: House of Anansi, 1969), 31-34. 

8. Alasdair Maclntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame 
Press, 1981). 


Carey ^ - 

de Tocqueville's words, "the hidden source of energy the life 
princTpk'the ultimate current running below the surfaces of 
our lives. 


Books, Articles, and Reviews, 1 960-1 990 

Compiled with the help of Barbara Buckley 

1960 "Advertising: An Institutional Approach." In The Role of Adver- 

tising, edited by Charles H, Sandage and Vernon Fryburger, 
3-17. Homewood, 111.: Richard D. Irwin, 1960. 

1961 Review of The Powerful Consumer, by George Katona. Journalism 

Quarterly 38 (Spring 1961): 243-44. 

1962 Review of Studies in Public Communication, edited by Edward C. 

Uliassi. Journalism Quarterly 39 (Winter 1962): 104-5. 

1964 "Some Personality Correlates of Persuasibility ." In Toward Scien- 
tific Marketing, edited by Stephen A. Greyser, 30-43. Chicago: 
American Marketing Association, 1964. (Reprinted in Con- 
sumer Behavior and the Behavioral Sciences, edited by Stewart 
Henderson Britt, 462-63. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 

"An Ethnic Backlash?" Commonweal 81 (16 October 1964): 91-93. 

1966 "Variations in Negro/White Television Preferences." Journal of 

Broadcasting 10 (Summer 1966): 199-212. 

With Rita James Simon. "The Phantom Racist." Trans-action 4 
(November 1966): 5-1 1 . (Reprinted in Campus Power Struggle, 
edited by Howard S. Becker, 10-19. Chicago: Aldine, 1970.) 

1967 "Harold Adams Innis and Marshall McLuhan." Antioch Review 

27 (Spring 1967): 5-39. (Reprinted in many journals and 
anthologies, including McLuhan: Pro and Con, edited by 
Raymond Rosenthal. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1968.) 

"Generations and American Society." In America Now, edited by 1968 
John G. Kirk, 293-305. New York: Atheneum, 1968. 

Review of The Committee, by Walter Goodman. In Commonweal 
88 (17 May 1968): 275-76. 

"The Communications Revolution and the Professional 1969 
Communicator." Sociological Review Monograph, no. 13 (Janu- 
ary 1969): 23-38. 

Review of Thirty Plays Hath November, by Walter Kerr. In Journal- 
ism Quarterly 46 (Winter 1%9): 844-45. 

With John J. Quirk, "The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution," 1970 
Parts 1, 2. American Scholar 39 (Spring, Summer 1970): 219^1, 

"Marshall McLuhan." World Book Encyclopedia. 1970, 1988. 

Review of Dwight MacDonald on Movies, by Dwight MacDonald. 
In Journalism Quarterly 47 (Spring 1970): 181-82. 

Review of The Movies as Medium, edited by Lewis Jacobs. Jou rnal- 1971 
ism Quarterly 48 (Summer 1971): 373-74. 

Review of Mass Media and the National Experience: Essays in 
Communications History, edited by Ronald T. Farrar and John 
D. Stevens. Journalism Quarterly 48 (Winter 1971): 774-75. 

The Politics of the Electronic Revolution. Urbana: Institute of 1972 
Communications Research, University of Illinois, 1972. 

Review of On Culture and Communication, by Richard Hoggart, 1973 
and Beyond Babel: New Directions in Communications, by Brenda 
Maddox. Commonweal 98 (16 March 1973): 42^3. 

"Criticism of the Press. " In Education for Newspaper Journalists in 
the Seventies and Beyond, 257-79. Washington, D.C.: American 
Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, 1973. 

With John J. Quirk, "The History of the Future." Communication 
Technology and Social Policy, edited by George Gerbner, Larry 
P. Gross, and William H. Melody, 485-503. New York: John 
Wiley, 1973. 

"TheProblemof JoumalismHistory."/oMrnfl/ismHfsfon/l (Spring 1974 
1974): 3-5, 27. 

254 AJ/Fall 1990 

"Journalism and Criticism: The Case of an Undeveloped 
Profession/' Review of Politics 36 (April 1974): 227-49. 

Review of The People's Films: A Political History of U.S. Government 
Motion Pictures, by Richard Dyer MacCann, and Nonfiction 
fi/m, by Richard MeranBarsam. /ournfl/ism QuarterlySl (Sum- 
mer 1974): 355-56. 

With Albert L. Kreiling. "Popular Culture and Uses and Gratifi- 
cations: Notes Toward an Accommodation." In The Uses of 
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Historiographical Essay 


Journalism History 
and Narrative Theory 

Jack Lule 

The Story of Evolution tells us how, quite as there was a 
time when the geological and biological processes of Earth 
went on wholly devoid of human Story, so the conditions 
that at present "comprehend" the human animal will 
eliminate the creatures whose Stories seek to "compre- 
hend" them, hence things will again proceed sans Story. 
— Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History 

BURKE SUGGESTS THAT HUMAN time is characterized by 
human story, that an essential part of being human is telling the 
story of being human. For now, there is much to tell. Humans 
struggle to comprehend, through story, conditions ominous as 
dark clouds, conditions that humans have made. Blackly, Burke 
predicts that human story will fail to comprehend and once 
again the Earth, once again unnamed, will go on without story. 

Such are the issues taken up by contemporary narrative 
theory. Primarily an interdisciplinary enterprise drawing upon 
scholarship in philosophy, literature, anthropology, and lin- 
guistics — as well as history — narrative theory, at its most basic, 
is concerned with the form and content of the story. At its 
broadest, it investigates the extent to which the story is an 
essential aspect of being human. 

For historians, the term "narrative" has been a contentious 
site. Long used for the traditional, story-telling method favored 
by many historians, the narrative model was challenged in past 
decades by the more scientific methods of social history. The 
turn though to narrative theory is more than a re-adoption of 
narrative form.^ Most often, narrative theory implies work on 

1 . See Lawrence Stone's interpretation of the return to narrative as "old history" 
in "The Revival of Narrative: Reflections on a New Old History," The Past and 
the Present (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), 74-96; and see Mark 

Jack Lule is an as- 
sistant professor 
of journalism at 
Lehigh University 
with a specializa- 
tion in media criti- 
cism. He taught 
Greviousiy at the 
niversity of 
Tulsa. His research 
interests include 
interpretation the- 
ory and interna- 
tional mass media. 

260 AJ/Fall 1990 

"the particular characteristics, resources, conventions, or struc- 
tures of historiographical narration."^ 

Journalism historians — even those most quantitatively in- 
clined — thus have some stakes in this story. Although in many 
ways narrative theory has confirmed the nature and process of 
historical inquiry, it has also challenged some established ways 
of thinking about history. Narrative theory can inform under- 
standing of the primary material that journalism historians work 
with, such as diaries, letters, news accounts, even economic data. 
And it can inform understanding of historians' essays and 
books — themselves narratives. 

The purpose of this essay is to review some important works 
in modem narrative theory.^ In particular, the essay will attempt 
to identify those asp)ects of narrative theory with implications for 
study and practice in journalism history. 

Traditionally, review essays proceed chronologically, tracing 
the development of thought in a discipline. Yet because only 
portionsof the development of narrative theory relate to journal- 
ism history, a chronology would have to abide matters of limited 
importance to the field.* 

Thus, rather than trace the development of thinking on narra- 
tive, this essay will isolate in that literature four themes of 

Phillips's critique of Stone's position, "The Revival of Narrative: Thoughts on 
a Current Historiographical Debate," UniTxrsity of Toronto Quarterly 53 (Winter 
1983-84): 149-65. 

2. Phillips, "Revival of Narrative," 149. 

3. The works reviewed here are: Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History, trans. 
Tom Conley (New York: Columbia Uruversity Press, 1978); Albert Cook, 
History /Writing (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Arthur C. 
Danto, Narration and Knowledge (New York: Colimibia University Press, 1985); 
Clifford Geertz "Blurred Genres: The Refiguration of Social Thought," in Local 
Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretixx Anthropology (New York: Basic, 1983), 
19-35; E)ominick LaCapra, History and Criticism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univer- 
sity Press, 1985); Donald E. PoUcinghome, Narrative Knowing and the Human 
Sciences (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988); Paul Ricoeur, Time 
andNarrative, vols. 1-2, trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1984, 1985); Paiil Veyne, Writing History: Essay on 
Epistemology, trans. Mina Moore-Rinvolucri (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan 
University Press, 1984); and Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagina- 
tion in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 
1973); Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 
University Press, 1978); and The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and 
Historical Representation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987). This 
review includes authors and works whose primary focus is narrative and 
history. Thus, although surely worthy of attention, the wide-ranging work of 
authors such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and others have not been 

4. For a discussion on the development of narrative theory, see Wallace Martin, 
Recent Theories of Narrative (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), and Paul 
Rabinow and William M. Sullivan, "The Interpretive Turn: Emergence of an 
Approach," in Interpretive Social Science: A Reader, ed. Rabinow and Sullivan 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 1-21. A representative collec- 
tion of accessible essays in narrative theory can be found in W.J.T. Mitchell, ed.. 
On Narrative (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981). 

Lule 261 

particular relevance to journalism historians — the character of 
historical events, the relation of story and plot, the nature of 
explanation, and the bond between time and narrative. Those 
themes stand as important components of narrative theory but 
achieve even greater prominence in the context of journalism 

What do historians really fabricate when they "make 
history" ? What are they "working on" ? What do they 
produce? Interrupting their erudite perambulations 
around the rooms of the National Archives, for a 
moment they detach themselves from the monumen- 
tal studies that will place them among their peers, 
and walking out into the street, they ask, "What in 
God's name is this business? What about the bizarre 
relations I am keeping with current society and, 
through the intermediary of my technical activities, 
with death" ?5 
With these evocative words, Michel de Certeau announces a 
primary theme of The Writing of History: History is a labor of and 
against death. Betraying its French origins, the book is a kind of 
lyrical, hermeneutic historiography; it attempts to understand 
how history has been understood .^Certeau is possessed by the 
past; he studies men and women of the past who studied the 
past. And yet he works amidst life, in the present. Historiogra- 
phy, for him, thus embraces loss and yet "denies loss by appro- 
priating to the present the privilege of recapitulating the past as 
a form of knowledge. A labor of death and a labor against 

Certeau proceeds in this labor by organizing previous theo- 
ries of history into four sections — productions of place, produc- 
tions of time, systems of Freudian psychology, and systems of 
meaning — and analyzing how they have come to grips with the 
past. A primary finding: Historians' conceptions of the past are 
intimately tied, he shows, to their conceptions of events. Certeau's 
comprehensive rethinking of the nature of events thus becomes 
basic to his study. 

Events, he says, are not discrete and precise happenings. They 
are projections of the historian; indeed, events "belong" as much 
to the historian as to history. While not engaged in an abstract 
argument over whether events occur in real time, Certeau nev- 
ertheless wants to emphasize how events have come to be 

5. Certeau, Writing of History, 56. 

6. Composed while Certeau divided his time between the Ecole des Hautes 
Etudes en Sciences Sociales in France and the University of California, The 
Writing of History reflects methodological interests of U.S. historiography and 
the philosophical emphases of the French. 

7. Certeau, Writing of History, 5. 

AJ/Fall 1990 

selected and recorded, how they have been described and — es- 
pecially — how they come to have meaning. 

Throughout "the writing of history," he finds that events 
really are a matter of method. "The event is that which must 
delimit, if there is to be intelligibility," he says. Allowing the 
historian to confine and define study, "the event is the means 
thanks to which disorder is turned into order. The event does not 
explain, but permits an intelligibility."® 

What is the relationship between method and event? Certeau 
attempts to show, with varying degrees of success, that histori- 
ans' conception and use of events are a function of ideology. 
Religious history in the seventeenth century, the ethnography of 
Jean de Lery, Freud's Moses and Monotheism — all are shown to be 
a result of influences from culture, religion, politics, historical 
training, language. The order, intelligibility, and meaning that 
historians derive from events are seen as political definitions, 
ideological demarcations. 

Like Certeau, Dominick LaCapra is concerned with the rela- 
tionship between ideology and the historian's conception of 
events and methods. In History and Criticism, his goal is to cri- 
tique the dominant, documentary approach to history and to 
offer a narrative perspective, concentrating especially on reflex- 
ive and self-critical aspects of modem rhetorical and literary 
theory. LaCapra's larger aim is to encourage a critical historiog- 
raphy that takes up the cause of the oppressed.' 

He begins with a brief but insightful critique of the documen- 
tary model of research in which "the historical imagination is 
limited to plausibly filling gaps in the record, and 'throwing new 
light' on a phenomenon requires the discovery of hitherto un- 
known information." He argues that historians make "a fetish of 
archival research, attempting to discover some 'unjustly ne- 
glected' fact, figure, or phenomenon, and dreaming of a 'thesis' 
to which his or her proper name may be attached."^" 

In this archival fetish, LaCapra recognizes the historian's 
quest for scientific status. And he suggests that this quest pro- 
ceeds at the expense of a narrative approach: 

Until recently, historians looking to the social sci- 
ences for guidance might denigrate the role of narra- 
tive in history and emphasize the need to subject 
"data" to analysis, hypothesis-formation, and model- 
building in the interest of elaborating valid explana- 

8. Certeau, Writing of History, 96. 

9. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 80. 

10. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 18, 21. Similarly, Hayden White writes, 
"Moreover, as history has become increasingly professionalized and special- 
ized, the ordinary historian, wrapped up in the search for the elusive document 
that will establish him as em authority in a narrowly defined field, has had little 
time to inform himself of the latest developments in the more remote fields of 
art and science." Tropics of Discourse, 28. 

Lule 263 

tions of historical phenomena. If the "artistic" side of 
history entered the picture at all, it would be through 
the narrow gate of a rather perfunctory idea of "good 
style" in writing that was accessible to the proverbial 
"generally educated person."" 
LaCapra does not advocate discarding the documentary ap- 
proach. He asks instead, "How may the necessary components 
of a documentary model without which historiography would 
be unrecognizable be conjoined with rhetorical features?"^^ His 
provisional answer is a new reading and interpretation of docu- 
ments already studied. This new reading would be undertaken 
with a more sophisticated sense of documents as events. 

"Rarely," he says, "do historians see significant texts as im- 
portant events in their own right that pose complex problems in 
interpretation and have intricate relations to other events and to 
various pertinent contexts." He charges that historians "ignore 
the textual dimensions of documents" — that is, "the manner in 
which documents 'process' or rework material in ways inti- 
mately bound up with larger sociocultural and political proc- 
esses." Studying documents as events, he says, would subject 
them to comprehensive social and ideological scrutiny — as well 
as a kind of rhetorical scrutiny that questions just "how texts do 
what they do."^^ 

An expanded, narrative perspective on documents and events 
would bring about other changes in the writing of history, 
LaCapra states. The less political and increasingly methodologi- 
cal documentary approach spawned research "of little signifi- 
cance or even diversionary both for the oppressed in society and 
for those attempting to develop a critical historiography."^* 
Critical self-reflection, he says, should bring about a recommit- 
ment to the peoples and events whose stories have not been told. 
LaCapra also hopes that a narrative approach might loosen 
the constricted language of history "that avoids or represses 
significant aspects of an exchange with the past, including the 
role of 'internally dialogized' styles in history that involve self- 
questioning, humor, stylization, irony, parody, and self-par- 
ody." Always his emphasis is on dialogue and persuasion. 
"Within this context, a 'conversation' with the past involves the 
historian in argument and even polemic — both with others and 
within the self — over approaches to understanding that are 
bound up with institutional and political issues."^^ 

Ultimately, LaCapra, like other narrative theorists, is hoping 
for flexibility, room to maneuver. He seeks a dialogue with a 
dominant, ungenerous spirit, found sometimes in journalism 

11. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 117. 

12. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 35. 

13. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 38. 

14. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 80. 

15. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 119, 36. 

AJ/Fall 1990 

history, that "requires the ostracism or castigation of those 
historians who do not subscribe to the one true way of practicing 


Perhaps no one has done more to explore the implications of 
narrative for history than Hayden WWte. In numerous essays 
and books. White has put forth a complex and challenging 
approach to understanding history through narrative. He is 
perhaps best known for the development of what he has called 
tropological analysis, the study of history through rhetorical 
tropes — metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. The tropes 
are "strategies of historical interpretation."^'' They serve a struc- 
tural function in the writing of history. In telling a story. White 
says, an historian is guided, at times unknowingly, by the form 
and function — ^"the content of the form" — of particular tropes.^^ 
This poetics of historiography White has called "metahistory," 
and much of his work has introduced, elaborated upon, and 
displayed his scheme. 

In developing that scheme. White has made some fundamen- 
tal assumptions of interest to journalism historians. A key as- 
sumption throughout much of his work: White rejects distinc- 
tions between history and fiction based on "the real." Breaking 
down barriers in place since Aristotle, White argues that simi- 
larities between history and fiction override distinctions based 
on history's grounding in "true facts." He demands a reconsid- 
eration of history in terms of fiction. 

What unites history and fiction? Narrative. White considers 
history as brethren to fiction because of likeness in narrative 
form and content. His oft-cited definition reveals his intention: 
The historical work, he says, is "a verbal structure in the form of 
a narrative prose discourse."^^ 

This assumption has large implications for the writing of 
history. Contrary to historians who posit that they discover or 
find a story through rigorous, methodical interrogation of events 
in the historical record. White argues that no set of historical 
events can in themselves constitute a story. Historians, like 
novelists, make stories. "The events are made into a story by the 
suppression or subordination of certain of them and the high- 
lighting of others, by characterizations, motific repetition, vari- 

16. LaCapra, History and Criticism, 137. Hayden White too notes "a sort of con- 
ditioned response among historians which has led to a resistance throughout 
the entire profession to almost any kind of critical self-analysis." Tropics of 
Discourse, 28. 

17. White, Metahistory, xi. 

18. A full discussion of White's theory of tropes is not possible here. A useful 
introduction can be found in White, Metahistory, 1-42, and White, Tropics of Dis- 
course, 1-25 and 197-217. 

19. White, Metahistory, ix; also 2. 

Lule 265 

ation of tone and point of view, alternative descriptive strategies, 
and the like — in short, all of the techniques that we would 
normally expect to find in the emplotment of a novel or play."^" 

A second and related assumption embedded in White's work 
offers useful but difficult distinctions between plot and story. 
For White, plot is a sequence of happenings, the chronicle of 
events that the historian finds and selects, using all the rigor and 
method espoused by the documentary school. 

Story, however, is structure and form; plots are shaped into 
stories of a certain kind . Using the same plot, one historian might 
construct a tragedy, another a comedy. The decision is not 
objective, methodological, but creative, literary. The historian 
"progressively identifies the kind of story he is telling — comedy, 
tragedy, romance, epic, or satire, as the case might be."^^ Else- 
where, White has written, "Narrative becomes a problem only 
when we wish to give to real events the form of story. It is because 
real events do not offer themselves as stories that their narrativ- 
ization is so difficult."^ 

Distinctions between story and plot thus are key for White. 
They offer a means for comparing history and fiction. They 
supply the foundation for his metahistory. And they allow him 
to find a balance between the unruly events of life and the deep 
structure he finds in history. 

But distinctions can also be hazy; the two are intimately 
related: "There can be no story without a plot by which to make 
of it a story of a particular kind."^ And the distinction. White 
admits, challenges traditional approaches: "The 'historical 
method' — as the classic historiographers of the nineteenth cen- 
tury understood the term — consisted of a willingness to go to the 
archives without any preconceptions whatsoever, to study the 
documents found there, and then to write a story about the 
events attested by the documents."^* 

White's thesis does affirm the necessity of archival research. 
The events — the plots — of historical records are not produced 
from the historians' imaginations but must be unearthed by and 
derived from research. But White provides an alternative per- 
spective on the writing of history. The story is created and 
constructed by the historian; and in an important way the story 
prefigures the material. "What the historian must bring to his 

20. White, Tropics of Discourse, 84. Paul Ricoevir also has written of the "kinship" 
between history and fiction that would extend even into the field of criticism in 
which "historiography and literary criticism are both called upon and are 
invited together to form a grand narratology." Time and Narrative 2:156-57. 

21. White, Tropics of Discourse, 59. 

22. Hayden White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality," 
in On Narrative, 4; also see Hayden White, "The Question of Narrative in 
Contemporary Historical Theory," History and Theory 23 (February 1984): 1-33. 

23. White, Tropics of Discourse, 62. 

24. White, Metahistory, 141. 

266 AJ/Fall 1990 

consideration of the record," he says, "are general notions of the 
kinds of stories that might be found there."^ 

A less structural approach to narrative is offered by the 
French historian Paul Veyne. Like White, Veyne assigns particu- 
lar significance to plot as a sequence of events. Unlike White, 
Veyne wants nothing to do with overarching tropical subtleties 
and distinctions. Indeed, in Writing History, Veyne suggests that 
the aim of history is only and merely the understanding of 
particular plots. And there is nothing mysterious about the 
process. Facts "have a natural organization that the historian 
finds ready-made," Veyne says, and the "effort of historical 
work consists precisely in discovering that organization."^^ 

Historians, Veyne says, must give themselves over to plot. 
Facts can be collected but "the fact is nothing without its plot." 
Explanations can be provided but "explanation is nothing but 
the way in which the account is arranged in a comprehensible 
plot." Simply, Veyne says, "the historian explains plots."^^ 

What method does the historian use to find these ready-made 
plots? Veyne wants to be provocative. "History has no method," 
he claims. "In order to understand the past, it is sufficient to view 
it with the same eyes we use to understand the world around us 
or the life of a foreign people." In fact, Veyne says, the method of 
history "has made no progress since Herodotus or Thucydides" 
and "the first concern of philosophers who profess to follow a 
historical methodology is, when they become historians, to 
return to the evidence of common sense."^* 

Veyne perhaps is disingenuous. Discovering a ready-made 
plot is no easy matter, he acknowledges; the historian must find 
organization — plot — in the messy matter of human lives. Plot is 
"a very human and not very 'scientific' mixture of material 
causes, aims, and chances — a slice of life, in short."^' 

Veyne offers no shortcuts, no hidden tropical structures, no 
methodological pretensions. He strives to rob strangeness from 
the historian's task, to remind historians they are privileged and 
burdened with work in a "real, concrete world, peopled with 
things, animals and men, in which men do and will, but do not 
do all they will."^° Ultimately, Veyne wants to provoke the his- 
torian into grappling with the rich plot that is life. 

A fundamental question in the philosophy of history has been 
whether explanations in history can be compared to those in the 
natural sciences. In 1945, Carl G. Hempel proposed that explana- 

25. White, Tropics of Discourse, 60. 

26. Veyne, Writing History, 31 . 

27. Veyne, Writing History, 33, 87-88. 

28. Veyne, Writing History, 105-7. 

29. Veyne, Writing History, 32. 

30. Veyne, Writing History, 105. 

Lule 267 

tions — in history as well as the natural sciences — presuppose 
"covering laws" and that ultimately the hun\anities would find 
unity with science.^^ 

But only a decade or so after Hempel's influential article, the 
philosophy of science itself was transformed by two books, N.R. 
Hanson's Patterns of Discovery and Thomas Kuhn's The Structure 
of Scientific Revolutions^^ With these books, science was por- 
trayed in terms usually associated with the humanities, terms of 
understanding and interpretation. Historical explanation again 
was in flux. And in 1960, working in the same tradition as 
Hanson and Kuhn, the philosopher Arthur Danto published the 
article "Narrative Sentences," which eventually led to the book 
Analytical Philosophy of History, one of the early attempts to use 
narrative to explain explanation in history .^^ 

Danto, in Narration and Knowledge, has recently updated and 
reworked his thinking. Narrative still is essential. "Narration 
exemplifies one of the basic ways in which we represent the 
world," he says. "The language of beginnings and endings, of 
turning f)oints and crises and climaxes, is complicated with this 
mode of representation to so great a degree that our image of our 
own lives must be deeply narrational."^^ 

For Danto then, narrative and explanation are firmly en- 
twined; indeed, he says, narrative already is "a form of explana- 
tion." Danto's goal is to explore why. He finds explanation 
inherent in the nature of "narrative sentences." These are sen- 
tences that "make essential reference to events later in time than 
the events they are about;" that is, "sentences the truth of which 
entails that at least two time-separated events have happjened."^ 

For example, "Washington became first president of the 
United States," entails not only the advent of Washington but 
also the advent of at least another president. Another example: 
"In 1743, the author of the Declaration of Independence was 
bom," describes the birth of Jefferson in light of subsequent 
events. Verbs such as "began," "preceded," "provoked," and 
"gave rise to" ensure a narrative sentence. 

Danto is interested in these sentences because he feels expla- 
nations are built into the very language that historians use. Often 
these sentences offer explanations of change: "The description 
makes an implicit reference to a past state of the subject of 

31. Carl G. Hempel, "The Function of General Laws in History," in Theories of 
History, ed. Patrick Gardiner (Glencoe, 111.: Free Press, 1959), 344-55. 

32. N.R. Hanson, Patterns of Discovery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1958); Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2d ed. (Oiicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1970). 

33. Analytical Philosophy of History was revised and republished as Arthur C. 
Danto, Narration and Knowledge G^ew York: Columbia Uruversity Press, 1985). 

34. Danto, Narration and Knowledge, xiii. 

35. Danto, Narration and Knowledge, 201, xii, 293; for a full discussion of narrative 
sentences see 143-Sl. 

268 AJ/Fall 1990 

change."^^ For example, "The article is finished" implies an 
earlier state when the article was not finished. 

He draws a number of implications from these insights. First, 
he says it is a "misguided lament" for historians to complain they 
cannot know events as a witness might have. 'Tor the whole 
point of history is not to know about actions as witnesses might, 
but as historians do, in connection with later events and as parts 
of temporal wholes."^^ 

Second, he says that narrative sentences provide support for 
the argument that the definitive explanation of the past is not to 
be forthcoming — "because earlier events will continue to re- 
ceive differing descriptions through the relations in which they 
stand to events later in time than themselves."^* The future is 
open and thus so is the past. 

Albert Cook also takes up the question of explanation in 
history. History/Writing focuses on individual historiographers 
from a variety of cultures, including Thucydides, Machiavelli, 
Burckhardt, and Michelet, as well as scriptural and philosophi- 
cal historians. Cook's theme is stated laboriously in the introduc- 
tion: "What the commanding historians of the past, remote and 
recent, have written constitutes a set of texts, of multiply coded 
verbal constructs that seem in certain ways to exceed the de- 
mands of the claim to validity by means initially of veracity to 
evidence and then to a sense behind all the evidence so concate- 

What Cook wants to say is that major works of history make 
up a kind of literature. These works claim explanation and 
validity not only by their use of evidence but by their acceptance 
as part of that literature. As Kuhn showed so well, research is a 
process of negotiation, a subjective enterprise of interaction 
among researchers. 

From this perspective. Cook argues that explanation in his- 
tory operates under two "constraints." The first constraint is the 
ever-present difficulty of inquiry. The historian must gather 
evidence and then use this evidence to explain actions of the 
past.*° For example, Thucydides must uncover and gather infor- 
mation from a variety of sources to set down an account of the Pe- 
lop>onnesian War. The second constraint is more subtle. The 
historian. Cook says, must write within the context of other 
histories as well as the genre and canon of history.*^ Thucydides, 

36. Danto, Narration and Knowledge, 233. 

37. Danto, Narration and Knowledge, 183. 

38. Danto, Narration and Knowledge, 340. 

39. Cook, History/Writing, 1. 

40. Cook, History/Writing, 16. 

41. Cook, History I'Writing, 1, 16. Michel de Certeau echoes this thought. He sees 
the writing of history as "the product of a place." He asks: "What is a 'valued 
work' in history? It is a work recognized as such by peers, a work that can be 
situated within an operative set, a work that represen ts some progress in respect 
to the current status of historical 'objects' and methods, and one that, bound to 

Lule 269 

with some exasperation, must separate myth from reality in 
Herodotus and also deal with discrepancies among the accounts 
of himself, Herodotus, and Homer. 

Throughout his historiography. Cook shows how these con- 
straints paradoxically enable the historian to construct explana- 
tions in history. Like Ricoeur, whose views are discussed below. 
Cook finds explanation always to be tied to temf)oral considera- 
tions. The historian works not only to present a temporal se- 
quence of events but to be part of a temporal sequence of histori- 
ans writing about these events.*^ 

Much of Clifford Geertz's work too has focused on the prob- 
lems of explanation. In Local Knowledge, Geertz returns to themes 
set forth so eloquently in his important work. The Interpretation 
of Cultures, themes of particular significance for journalism 
historians; his goal is "an attempt somehow to understand how 
it is we understand understandings not our own."*^ 

The opening essay, "Blurred Genres," especially can aid those 
contemplating the role of narrative theory in journalism history. 
In this essay, Geertz explores the relationship between the hu- 
manities and social sciences. Indeed, as his title indicates, he 
questions the divisions between and within the two. 

He finds that "something is happening to the way we think 
about the way we think" and that, more specifically, the nature 
of explanation is undergoing change. "Many social scientists 
have turned away from a laws and instances ideal of explanation 
toward a cases and interpretation one," he writes, "looking less 
for the sort of thing that connects planets and pendulums and 
more for the sort that connects chrysanthemums and swords."** 

Freed from "dreams of social physics — covering laws, unified 
science, operationalism, and all that," the social scientists turn, 
hats in hands, to the humanities.*^ What the social scientists find, 
Geertz suggests, are the humanities turning, hats in hands, to 
one another. 

All this turning is of the greatest significance to Geertz. He 
finds most interesting not where the ferment will end but what 
it may mean. And what it may mean, he says, is a challenge to 
traditional social science and its obsession with theories, data, 
laws, and brute facts. He sees instead "the refiguration of social 
thought" and "a sea change not so much of what knowledge is 
but of what it is we want to know."*^ 

Finally, Geertz seems to be reconsidering Dilthey's age-old 
distinction between understanding and explanation. He strives 

the milieu in which it has been elaborated, in turn makes new research 
possible." Certeau, Writing of History, 64. 

42. Cook, History/Writing, 204. 

43. Geertz, "Blurred Genres," 5; also see Qifford Geertz, The Interpretation of 
Cultures (New York: Basic, 1973), 3-30. 

44. Geertz, "Blurred Genres," 20, 19. 

45. Geertz, "Blurred Genres," 23. 

46. Geertz, "Blurred Genres," 34. 

270 AJ/Fall 1990 

toward a time when "explanation comes to be regarded as a 
matter of connecting action to sense," when explanation is 


Intimately connected to the study of history as narrative is an 
understanding of time. Time, after all, provides meaning and 
movement to history, narrative, and the experience of life itself. 

Donald E. Polkinghome, In Narrative Knowing and the Human 
Sciences, brings the perspective of a psychologist to the study of 
human existence and narrative. His primary concern is to offer 
narrative as a research alternative to social science designs. He 
shows that much research — clinical life histories, organizational 
case consultations, studies in corporate culture, psychoanalytic 
biographies — are founded upon narrative. In showing the 
practicality of narrative research, concentrating especially on 
history, literature, and psychology, Polkinghorne's larger aims 
are to locate narrative as an integral aspect of being human.*^ 

His study of history and narrative esp)ecially develops this 
theme. He provides a basic, if overly simple, discussion of the 
tides that have moved history in this century, including the 
influence of Dilthey's work in hermeneutics, the "covering law" 
debate, the challenge of French historiography, and finally the 
insights of narrative discourse, focusing specifically on the work 
of the philosopher Paul Ricoeur. 

Polkinghorne's contribution to the literature on narrative is to 
add support from psychology for Ricoeur's insights into narra- 
tive and the human experience of time. "Ricoeur has deepened 
the examination of narrative and, instead of simply considering 
narrative as a special historical explanatory mode, has found it 
to be a life form that has functioned as part of human existence 
to configure experience into a unified process."*^ 

As Polkinghome demonstrates, Ricoeur's work is assuming 
great prominence in narrative theory. Working primarily in phe- 
nomenological hermeneutics, Ricoeur is concerned with the 
convergence of time, experience, and interpretation. In Time and 
Narrative, Ricoeur uses the varied forms of narrative — mythic, 
historical, and fictional — to explore this convergence. 

His main thesis is of great interest to historians: "Time be- 
comes human time to the extent that it is organized after the 
manner of a narrative; narrative, in turn, is meaningful to the 
extent that it portrays the features of temporal experience."^" 

Those familiar with Ricoeur's previous works in interpreta- 

47. Geertz, "Blurred Genres," 34. 

48. Polkinghome, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, 125-55. 

49. Polkinghome, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, 69. 

50. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1 :3. Volume 1 is devoted to the temporal expe- 
rience of historical narrative. Volume 2, while most concerned with fiction, still 
is of interest as it draws numerous comparisons and distinctions between 
fictional and historical narratives. 

Lule 271 

tion theory will recognize his scholarly modus operandi. After 
introducing his subject, Ricoeur reviews hundreds of major and 
minor works on the topic. He finds some strength in each work 
but also locates the unanswered questions that his own work 
will try to comprehend. A Ricoeur book is a generous, if exhaust- 
ing, feat of scholarship. 

Time and Narrative begins with an exploration of plot. Al- 
though Ricoeur considers the work of numerous historians, 
including White, Veyne, and Cook, his primary thrust is much 
broader: Ricoeur sees in plot the reconfiguration of human time. 
He confronts Aristotle's distinction between mythos — usually 
thought of as the plot, the set of events in a story — and mimesis — 
the imitation or representation of an action. By the third chapter 
of volume 1, Ricoeur has reinterpreted Aristotle, joined mythos 
and mimesis, and distinguished three senses of mimesis: 1) the 
preunderstanding writers and readers have of the order of 
action; 2) the transformation — or emplotment — of events into a 
composition; 3) the person's experience as his or her preunder- 
standing meets his or her understanding of the composition.^^ 
Historians' conceptions of plot, Ricoeur notes, often center on 
only the second sense of mimesis. He wants to broaden and 
extend the notion of plot. 

Ricoeur expends the effort because eventually he finds in plot 
a key to life. Plot is one of the important ways humans give order 
and meaning to experience in time. "I see in the plots we invent," 
he says, "the privileged means by which we reconfigure our 
confused, unformed, and at the limit mute temporal experi- 

Plots in historical narratives, it appears, have an exceedingly 
complex relationship with time because they are a part of the 
historical past, the historian's present, and ultimately the reader's 
future. To further explore how plots can do this, Ricoeur studies 
the relationship between time and events — the stuff of plots. 
Like Paul Veyne, Ricoeur believes the historical event must be 
not only what happens but what can be narrated; an event is an 
element of a plot. Yet through his complex notion of plot, Ricoeur 
recognizes events across all three senses of mimesis, "to all the 
levels and their various functions."^^ 

First, events in some ways exist before the plot; they are 
probable, prefigured in advance. Ricoeur accepts the notion, put 

51. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1:45-51; also see 1:52-87. This third sense of 
mimesis is similar to notions of "the appropriation of the text world" ex- 
pounded in Ricoeur's theory of hermeneutic interpretation. See Paul Ricoeur, 
Interpretation Theory (Fort Worth: Texas Christian Uiuversity Press, 1976); also 
see Paul Ricoeur, "The Model of the Text: Meaningful Action Considered as a 
Text," in Rabinow and Sullivan, Interpretive Social Science, 73-101. 

52. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative l:xi. 

53. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1:217. Ricoeur limits his discussion here to plots 
in historical narratives. The various "metamorphoses" of the plot in fictional 
narratives are analyzed in Time and Narrative 2:7-28. 

272 AJ/Fall 1990 

forth most forcefully by Hayden White, that historians approach 
the past with a preunderstanding of an available repertoire of 
plots and events. Second, events are part of the composition; this 
is the traditional perspective on events — they provide a se- 
quence of happenings in narrative. Third, events are understood 
by readers and spectators in a moment that unites all three levels; 
readers experience what Aristotle called metabole. "An event, 
once again, is not only what contributes to the unfolding of a plot 
but what gives it the dramatic form of a change in fortune," 
Ricoeur concludes.^ 

This almost obsessively complex definition of events was 
necessary to Ricoeur so that the concept could withstand the 
weight of his analysis. "The notion of event had to lose its usual 
qualities of brevity and suddenness," he says, "in order to 
measure up to the discordances and ruptures that punctuate the 
life of economic, social, and ideological structures of an individ- 
ual society."^^ 

Through such sophisticated conceptions of plots and events, 
Ricoeur explores the experience of time through narrative — or 
more specifically, the relation between the time of narrative and 
the time of phenomenological experience. His larger motives are 
to recast and reinvigorate the place of narrative and in some 
ways restore the dignity and status of the "maker of plots."^^ 

Historians share in this restored status in Ricoeur's work. Like 
all writers, the historian performs the remarkable: The historian 
brings order to chaos, concordance to discordance, and gives 
meaning to that which had none. The giver of meaning, the 
maker of plots, Ricoeur says, can "make the intelligible spring 
from the accidental, the universal from the singular, the neces- 
sary or probable from the episodic."^^ 


The works reviewed here attest to the importance of narrative 
theory for work in history. Through specific themes, such as the 
historical event, the story and plot, the nature of explanation, 
and time and narrative, the historian can find a new perspective 
on matters often left assumed or unexamined. 

Work in narrative has particular implications for journalism 
historians. Clearly, it provides an alternative approach to our 
subject, especially focusing our attention on the way in which 
narrative strategies and conventions shape interpretations of 
journalistic events. For example, why have certain events, such 
as the Zenger trial, attained such status in our literature? Narra- 

54. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1:224-25. 

55. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1 :230. 

56. Even in the turbulent world of modem fiction, Ricoeur says, "the narrative 
function can still be metamorphosed, but not so as to die. For we have no idea 
of what a cultiire would be where no one any longer knew what it meant to 
narrate things." Time and Narrative 2:28. 

57. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1:41. 

Lule 273 

tive theory suggests that events are not discrete happenings but 
constructions and projections of historians, and that events such 
as the Zenger trial are used by historians to construct larger 
stories, such as the development of U.S. press freedom. 

Further, narrative theory argues that such stories prefigure 
the material and are brought to the record by historians. The 
stories thus unavoidably structure and guide the selection and 
handling of material. Too, narrative theory suggests that those 
stories are often built upon the work of other journalism histori- 
ans. For example, the developmental or Whig interpretation of 
journalism history can be seen as one story that long structured 
work in the field. 

Journalism historians can also benefit from narrative focus 
upon the form — as well as the content — of their own writing. In 
some way, this echoes the traditional question surrounding 
narrative in history: What is the appropriate form in which to do 
history? Narrative theory, however, recognizes convention, 
canon, form, and structure in all forms of historical writing. 
Perhaps within the ongoing discussion over research methods in 
journalism history, attention also can be paid to the methods by 
which this research attains written form. 

"New questions demand not only new methods, but new 
forms of expression," writes Mark Phillips. "It is possible that 
these will arise without an apparent programme, but innovation 
is most likely to occur when historians have a self-conscious 
concern with the relationship between their methods and their 
'mode of writing.'"^* 

Another implication: Narrative theory can remind journal- 
ism historians of the breadth and depth of their subject. Humans 
make sense of the world through story, as work in narrative af- 
firms, and an important part of making sense of the world each 
day has been the news. Although certainly the news cannot be 
looked to for dependable, veridical accounts of social life, the 
news tells stories that offer insights into writers, editors, institu- 
tions, cultures, and eras. 

Narrative theory can also demonstrate to journalism histori- 
ans their peculiar relationship with time. Journalism's lust for 
the present, the new, has been displayed each day in the pages 
of the press. Long after, journalism historians come to those 
pages, that present, bringing with them another dimension of 
time. And this time has its own experience. From our present, we 
view their present; we label a report inaccurate; we see part of a 
larger body of work; we see an exemplar of an era; we see distinct 
patterns of coverage. We can do all this because we have time. 
The two experiences of time — the supercharged now of the news 
and the steady, studied present of the historian — provide part of 
the tension and power of work in journalism history. 

58. Phillips, "Revival of Narrative," 162. 

274 AJ/Fall 1990 

And, even more broadly, narrative theory provides a sense of 
the essentiality of that work. More than any other, the historian 
is charged with chronicling human story. And much of the story 
still goes untold. The weak and defeated especially, who had not 
the power or place to leave a trace, need their story told if the 
story is to continue. More than any other, the historian is charged 
by narrative theory with asking questions long unasked, com- 
prehending matters long forgotten, telling stories as yet untold. 
According to Ricoeur, "We tell stories because in the last analy- 
sis human lives need and merit being narrated. This remark 
takes on its full force when we refer to the necessity to save the 
history of the defeated and the lost. The whole history of suffer- 
ing cries out for vengeance and calls for narrative.'^^ 

As the human story evolves, as humans grapple with condi- 
tions of human making, they may find the ability to comprehend 
these conditions through story. Perhaps through narrative, 
through telling the story, historians can ensure that the Earth 
will not have to go on without story. 

59. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative 1 :75. 


John Nerone 
University of Illinois 

A COUPLE OF decades 
ago, the sub-discipline of 
intellectual history encoun- 
tered two massive ob- 
stacles, two sets of ques- 
tions that threatened to 
undermine its legitimacy. 
One came from an empiri- 
cal impulse: for a genera- 
tion, intellectual historians 
had comfortably general- 
ized about ideas (which 
supposedly had some exis- 
tence of their own, divorced 
from whatever uses they 
were put to) and the con- 
texts that impinged on 
them — climates of opinion, 
national characters, and so 
forth. This language had a 
comfortable fuzziness 
about it, but critics saw that 
it lacked rigor. 

Beginning in the sixties 
but climaxing only in the 
eighties, then, historians 
traded in their old terms 
for new ones that were 
situated more tightly in 
theory: ideology, hegemony, 
discourse, and the like, 
terms that are fuzzy not 
because they abjure rigor 
but because they are con- 
tested. Historians were 
forced to grapple with the 
grounding of ideas in con- 
texts that were not them- 
selves intellectual: social 
structure, productive ac- 
tivities, and, most frighten- 
ingly, language. Things 

have not been the same 

Allied with this theoreti- 
cal challenge to intellectual 
history was one more po- 
litical. Intellectual histori- 
ans had usually studied 
"refined" thought: the 
works of the great writers 
and thinkers. But this im- 
plied that "ordinary" 
people — the "inarticulate," 
as they came to be called 
in the sixties — ^had no cul- 
ture, or worse, had culture 
only insofar as they read 
and appreciated Whitman, 
James, Dewey, and others. 
Intellectual historians were 
challenged to abandon the 
great books and consult 
the culture of the people, 
the culture of the market- 
place, and local and re- 
gional ethnic and racial 

Several new approaches 
appeared at this intersec- 
tion of intellectual and so- 
cial history. One was the 
history of education, con- 
ceived broadly as the his- 
tory of cultural transmis- 
sion in the work of the late 
Lawrence Cremin, under- 
stood as a technique of so- 

cial control by Michael 
Katz and others. Allied 
with the history of educa- 
tion was the history of lit- 

Historians of literacy be- 
gan with the simple em- 
pirical question of the ex- 
tent of literacy. By consult- 
ing legal docimients and 
petitions, they calculated 
what percentage of the 
population could sign 
their own names, and by 
correlating this informa- 
tion with class, gender, 
and occupation, they con- 
structed a rough sketch of 
the (changing) segment of 
society that had uses for 
literacy. Inevitably, though, 
questions were raised 
about the connections be- 
tween literacy and status, 
mobility, and power; re- 
search began to call into 
question the assumption 
that the acquisition of liter- 
acy had a necessary corre- 
lation with individual mo- 
bility, modernization, and 
political democracy. In 
some cases, it was argued 
that the expansion of liter- 
acy was tied more closely 
to the expansion of state 

Books Reviewed in This Essay 

Richard D. Brown. Oxford University Press, 1989. 384 pp. $39.95, 

LAND, 1780-1835. By William J. Gilmore. University of Ten- 
nessee Press, 1989. 568 pp. $49.95, Cloth. 

1750-1914. By David Vincent. Cambridge University Press, 
1989. 376 pp. $49.50. Cloth. 


AJ/Fall 1990 

authority. Questions of 
power — Whose power? 
How does literacy em- 
power? — have come to the 
fore in the study of the his- 
tory of literacy, as in the 
study of culture generally. 

These issues assume 
quite different aspects at 
the macro and micro levels. 
On the macro level, the 
crucial questions involve 
networks of production 
and distribution, national 
policies, and long-term 
trends like industrializa- 
tion; on the micro level, the 
questions concern the ways 
in which discrete readers 
and communities of read- 
ers use specific texts. 

In this essay I review 
three recent books that 
study literacy in different 
but complementary ways. 
David Vincent's Literacy 
and Popular Culture: Eng- 
land, 1750-1914 explores 
the century and a half in 
which literacy became uni- 
versal in England, with a 
special concern for its 
place in the lives of the 
working class. Richard 
Brown's Knowledge Is 
Power: The Diffusion of In- 
formation in Early America, 
1700-1865 takes a similarly 
broad point of view, deal- 
ing with an entire nation 
for a century and a half. 
Finally, William Gilmore's 
Reading Becomes a Necessity 
of Life: Material and Cultural 
Life in Rural New England, 
1780-1835 takes a more 
precise focus on a half-cen- 
tury of development in the 
Upper Valley of the Con- 
necticut River. 

Though diverse in topic 
and approach, all three 
studies share a common 
concern. They all examine 

the Anglo-American world 
at the time of the early- 
nineteenth-century crea- 
tion of a particular com- 
munications environment, 
one characterized by gen- 
eral literacy, an abundant 
supply of printed material, 
and the development of 
extensive (rather than in- 
tensive) styles of reading. 
Economically, this coin- 
cided with the transporta- 
tion revolution, the expan- 
sion of market transac- 
tions, and the beginning of 
the industrial revolution; 
politically, it coincided 
with the "democratic revo- 
lutions": in the U.S., the 
rise of Jacksonian politics; 
and in England, Chartism. 
This conjuncture of revolu- 
tionary changes is com- 
pared explicitly or implic- 
itly in all three books to 
the late-twentieth-century 
development of electronic 
communications with its 
accompanying second in- 
dustrial revolution. Also 
implied in each work is an 
attitude toward techno- 
logical determinance in 
communications history. 

Vincent's Literacy and 
Popular Culture uses as its 
empirical base literacy sta- 
tistics derived from signa- 
tures on marriage certifi- 
cates. From this ground- 
ing, Vincent constructs a 
chronology of the spread 
of literacy; but this is just a 
starting point, for the 
meaning of this chronol- 
ogy is far from self-evident. 
Rather, he begins with the 
premise "that the conse- 
quences of the coming of 
mass literacy in England 
must be sought in the di- 
verse areas of activity in 
which the skills of reading 

and writing were prac- 
tised ."(xi) This is to say 
that the meaning of liter- 
acy is rooted in its uses 
and is not an autonomous 
effect of the technology of 
reading and writing. He 
therefore chooses six areas 
of activity to discuss: fam- 
ily, education, work, the 
natural world, the imagi- 
nation, and politics, and 
devotes a chapter to each. 
In each chapter, Vincent 
starts with a piece of con- 
ventional wisdom and 
then calls it into question. 
In the chapter on educa- 
tion, for instance, he be- 
gins by challenging the 
notion that massive state- 
sponsored education was 
primarily responsible for 
the spread of literacy 
among the working class. 
He suggests instead that 
"the foundation for the 
eventual victory [of liter- 
acy] was laid not in the 
schoolroom but in the 
working-class family." (54) 
Implied is a critique of two 
relatively simple moral 
narratives about the 
spread of literacy: one, 
that it empowered the 
people and equipped them 
for democracy; the other, 
that it was a tool of social 
control. In Vincent's subse- 
quent discussion of school- 
ing, literacy emerges as a 
function of a long-stand- 
ing contest over the con- 
trol of education between 
working<lass families and 
the representatives of or- 
ganized religion and the 
state. "Reading and writ- 
ing came to be the princi- 
pal currency of exchange 
in the long-running nego- 
tiation between parents 
and teachers." (54) 

Book Reviews 


The same approach is ap- 
parent in other areas of ac- 
tivities. In the workplace, 
workers and managers, or- 
ganized labor and capital, 
competed for control, with 
each invoking literate and 
oral practices as the situ- 
ation warranted. In his 
analysis here, Vincent 
challenges two simple ar- 
guments: one, that literacy 
was a precondition for in- 
dustrialization; the other, 
that industrialization oc- 
curred at the expense of 
popular literacy. Again, 
the technology of the writ- 
ten word was coded by 
different groups in differ- 
ent ways for different pur- 
poses; again, the emphasis 
is on the uses of literacy. 

Vincent's comments in 
each area of activity are 
rich in detail and interpre- 
tation. Occasionally, the 
narrative takes unexpected 
turns. In the discussion of 
family, Vincent examines 
the importance of the 
penny post in maintaining 
ties across distances, not- 
ing that cheap postage was 
of much greater benefit to 
the middle than the work- 
ing class, but also had the 
unintentional effect of pro- 
ducing the Valentine's 
Day card, the Christmas 
card, and the postcard, 
which became popular 
among working-class 
families. His discussion of 
politics includes rich com- 
mentary on the press, in 
which he notes that, in 
Chartism, the press flour- 
ished while organization 
lagged, partly due to un- 
equal state intervention: 
the government tolerated 
printed dissent, but vigor- 
ously opposed "seditious" 

clubs and parties. Eventu- 
ally, the working-class 
press, lacking organiza- 
tional support, yielded to 
the forces of commerciali- 
zation, until, with the 
Harmsworth (Northcliffe) 
papers, "news [became] 
simply a means of keeping 
the advertisements apart." 

Ultimately, underlying 
all of the contradictions 
and ironies that Vincent 
calls attention to is an 
overarching movement 
from heterogeneity to in- 
coherence. The long view 
is one of the atomization 
of working-class families 
and communities into in- 
dividuals in the workplace, 
the marketplace, and poli- 
tics; the long trend is an 
increasing separation be- 
tween all of these areas of 
activity. This history was 
not determined by "liter- 
acy" or by "commerciali- 
zation," neither of which 
has autonomous existence, 
but by concrete interests 
working through the state, 
the churches, businesses, 
and the schools. 

Literacy and Popular Cul- 
ture should be read as a 
complement to three of the 
key works in the tradition 
of British cultural studies: 
E. P. Thompson's The Mak- 
ing of the English Working 
Class (Gollancz , 1963), 
Raymond Williams's The 
Long Revolution (Chatto 
and Windus, 1961), and 
Richard Hoggart's The 
Uses of Literacy (Chatto and 
Windus, 1957). (3f these 
books, Vincent seems 
covertly engaged with 
Williams and Thompson, 
whom he cites but does 
not discuss; in his conclu- 

sion, however, he grapples 
briefly with Hoggart, ar- 
guing that he has pre- 
sented the development of 
the working-class culture 
whose demise Hoggart 
anatomized and attributed 
to the forces of commer- 

If Vincent calls to mind 
the first generation of 
British cultural studies, 
Gilmore is reminiscent of 
that branch of the French 
Annales tradition that glo- 
ried in intensive local 
studies. Reading Gilmore's 
book is like reading 
Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie's 
Montaillou in the intensity 
of its focus, as well as in 
the way the author teases 
meaning out of material 
life. Indeed, Gilmore bor- 
rows some of the tech- 
niques and vocabulary of 
the Annalistes, especially 
the concept of mentalite. 

He also develops some 
concepts of his own, the 
most remarkable being 
"habitat." Gilmore charac- 
terizes habitat as a 
"middle-level" concept 
that integrates social, eco- 
nomic, and cultural fac- 
tors. He defines it specifi- 
cally as a "living situation," 
leaving in this definition 
"a historically accurate 
degree of ambiguity." 
(137-38) More specifically, 
he identifies five distinct 
habitats in the rural New 
England region he studies, 
based on physical environ- 
ment, location within the 
transportation network, 
predominant occupation, 
wealth, market penetra- 
tion, literacy, and mentalite. 
The five habitats he names 
"fortunate village," "fortu- 
nate farmstead," "self-suf- 


AJ/Fall 1990 

ficient hamlet," "self-suffi- 
cient farmstead," and 
"hard- scrabble." Gilmore 
contends that the experi- 
ence of reading was strong- 
ly inflected by habitat. 

Habitat was not the only 
factor affecting literacy. In- 
deed, throughout the 
book, Gilmore refuses to 
reduce his analysis to a 
single level; continually, 
he gives lists of factors 
rather than arguing for the 
salience of one particular 
factor. Thus, in addition to 
habitat, he notes the im- 
portance of occupation, in- 
come, gender, and stage of 
life — a too frequently ig- 
nored consideration. At 
every point he is careful to 
integrate the social and the 

At key moments, Gilmore 
captures with exceptional 
clarity a past in its con- 
creteness. His description 
of the intensive reading of 
"hard scrabble" families is 
one such moment, as is his 
reconstruction of seasonal 
cycles in rural cultural life. 
His explanations of specific 
mentalites — the importance 
of the notion of "mending" 
to New Englanders, for in- 
stance, and his discussion 
of the emerging "spirit of 
fact" — also stand out. At 
other points he presents 
information with a thor- 
oughness that could only 
be achieved after years of 
concentration on a specific 
area. His maps and charts 
of the changing social ge- 
ography of the region are 
models for future studies. 
In the end, Gilmore gives 
us a complex, nuanced ac- 
count of the emergence of 
the world's first truly liter- 
ate rural society. 

Yet this analysis leaves a 
few questions unasked. 
One that occurred to me 
involved consciousness 
and experience. One won- 
ders, for instance, whether 
people conceived of them- 
selves as living in a "self- 
sufficient hamlet?" Did 
they develop "habitat con- 
sciousness"? In general, it 
is not clear from Gilmore's 
account which factors 
were experienced by resi- 
dents of the Upper Valley 
as significant, nor is it 
clear how consciousness 
fits into Gilmore's sche- 

One factor that seems to 
have been salient at the 
level of consciousness is 
artisanal status. This factor 
cut across lines of habitat, 
and Gilmore notes arti- 
sanal families as anomalies 
in his discussions of the 
reading habits of different 
habitats. Might not class — 
in the sense of a shared 
position in the productive 
process and not in the 
sense of income level (as 
Gilmore uses it in table 7- 
1, page 246) — ^have been as 
salient a factor as habitat? 

Much of Gilmore's analy- 
sis is static. While he is at- 
tentive to change in gen- 
eral, and while his work 
does have an overarching 
narrative, in the sections 
where he discusses factors 
like occupation and habi- 
tat his categories seem to 
stand still in time. This is 
perhaps a wise choice, 
since adding the element 
of change over time would 
complicate an already 
complex discussion; but 
some readers will find 
themselves yearning for a 
chain of events. Gilmore 

does invoke familiar 
events: the religious reviv- 
als of the early nineteenth 
century, the contests be- 
tween Federalists and 
Jeffersonians, and the War 
of 1812 are all cited. And, 
though he does not base 
his analysis on a narrative, 
and rather seems to em- 
phasize the timeless and 
the generalizable, he does 
posit a fundamental 
change occurring within 
this period. This change is 
one from scarcity to abim- 
dance in print culture. By 
the end of the period un- 
der study, people in spe- 
cific habitats were supple- 
menting their (intensive) 
reading of the old steady- 
sellers with newer material 
that they read extensively 
— travel books, novels, 
and the like. (Here it is un- 
fortunate that probate rec- 
ords — Gilmore's primary 
source for library informa- 
tion — contained so little 
information about news- 
paper readership.) 

Oddly, the mood of the 
Upper Valley in this new 
era of abundance was not 
upbeat. Instead, Gilmore's 
study ends on a sad note, 
with local residents ex- 
pressing a sense of disap- 
pointment at the failure of 
their region to blossom 
into the new world. 

Richard D. Brown's 
Knowledge Is Power ends on 
a more optimistic note. 
Brown's title immediately 
calls to mind two thinkers: 
Francis Bacon, whose in- 
fluence he acknowledges, 
and Michel Foucault. It 
quickly becomes clear to 
the reader that Brown is 
exploring the way indi- 
viduals acquired knowl- 

Book Reviews 


edge as a way of acquiring 
power — Bacon's notion — 
rather than the way power 
and knowledge are con- 
structed together in dis- 
courses — Foucault's. 
Brown seems to view 
knowledge as a given, and 
power as one of its proper- 
ties. But his story is not so 
simple, as we shall see. 

Brown's method is to 
read diaries and decipher 
from them local networks 
of communication. The 
diaries he chooses are of- 
ten familiar and always 
rich in detail — those of 
Samuel Sewall in colonial 
Boston, William Byrd II in 
colonial Virginia, John 
Adams during the Revolu- 
tion, Fanny Kemble in the 
antebellum South. He 
finds in every instance that 
sources of information 
were dependent on posi- 
tion in society in terms of 
status, occupation, and 
gender. His discussions of 
specific situations will also 
be familiar to specialists: 
his New England re- 
sembles David Hall's, his 
Virginia Rhys Isaacs' s, and 
his antebellum South 
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's. 
This material is supple- 
mented with a couple of 
chapters on information 
diffusion — one on port cit- 
ies, one on "contagious 
diffusion" with crisis 
news — that draw on wider 

Throughout, Brown finds 
the expansion of print 
communication creating a 
constantly enlarging area 
of choice. At the end of his 
study — 1865 — he finds a 
society where abundance 
and choice have displaced 
older systems of privilege 

and hierarchy, a world in 
which knowledge is read- 
ily available and, one sup- 
poses, power as well. In 
the world of abundant 
print, social homogeneity 
has been shattered, along 
with the habits of consen- 
sus and deference, and a 
public sphere has emerged 
to displace the old order of 
privileged personal politi- 
cal communication. 

The world of print did 
not benefit everyone in the 
same way, however. In- 
deed, in Brown's most 
compelling chapter, he 
discusses the dimension of 
gender and the persistence 
of the notion of a woman's 
sphere. He notes that this 
idea of a realm of special 
power for women was a 
two-edged sword: it both 
enhanced their status in 
home and church and 
eliminated them from poli- 
tics and the marketplace. 
In the world of print, it 
steered women away from 
worldly matter and into a 
continent of sentiment and 
piety. In this case, print 
disempowered too: the 
reader of sentimental fic- 
tion did not belong in the 
world of government. 

The experience of women 
alerts us to the continued 
operation of power in the 
world of abundant print. 
And, while Brown is not 
unaware of this problem, 
he devotes rather little at- 
tention to it. What emerged 
was not just a flood of 
printed material, but a 
popular culture in print, 
complete with sets of aes- 
thetic, moral, and social 
values. This culture em- 
powered some and disem- 
powered others, just as co- 

lonial culture had. The dis- 
appearance of one kind of 
hierarchy signalled also 
the appearance of another, 
one that might not appear 
in consumers' accounts — 
like diaries — but might 
have to be inferred from 
the supply-side — networks 
of production and distri- 
bution, genres of litera- 
ture, recurring motifs, the 
professionalization of 
knowledge. Brown's excel- 
lent account of Bacon's 
spiritual grandchildren 
awaits a counterpart. 

These three books, and 
the trend in intellectual 
history, social history, and 
the history of communica- 
tions that they represent, 
should find a wide reader- 
ship among scholars of 
journalism. They take aim 
at a target that journalism 
historians too often ignore 
— the public or the market 
or the audience for the 
printed word. In Gilmore's 
careful conclusions and 
Vincent's unexpected con- 
tradictions and Brown's 
thoughtful portraits are 
lessons of significance for 
historians of the press. 

Ultimately, all three 
books call into question 
simple versions of the past. 
Most obviously, they reject 
a notion of linear progress, 
in which ignorance is 
gradually dispelled over 
time by information tech- 
nologies. All of the social 
worlds described in these 
books are real worlds, not 
just the childhood stages 
of modernity. Similarly, all 
three books call into ques- 
tion simple notions of 
technological determinism. 
The printed word was not 
a single entity, but assumed 


AJ/Fall 1990 

different aspects when 
employed in different 
ways by different people. 
While all these books are 
attentive to the specific 
characteristics of print cul- 
ture in the contexts de- 
picted, all are also careful 
not to attribute autono- 
mous causality to print. 
Finally, all three books 
give us reason to doubt the 
image of the age of reading 
found in books like Neil 
Postman's Amusing Our- 
selves to Death. While liter- 
acy spread in the nine- 
teenth century, it did not 
produce a golden age of 
independent rational read- 
ers who attended publicly 
to long and complex argu- 
ments. The literate public 
of the nineteenth century 
was segmented along lines 
of class, occupation, gen- 
der, race, and habitat; they 
read for self-interest as 
well as public interest, and 
their reading material was 
more likely a chapbook or 
a romance than a speech of 
Daniel Webster. Some — 
especially newspaper edi- 
tors — fantasized in print 
about a public of Enlight- 
enment men, and occa- 
sionally historians are 
tempted to posit such a 
public. The temptation 
should be resisted; the fan- 
tasy should instead be in- 
terrogated for the interests 
it concealed. 


By Rosamund McKitterick. 
• Cambridge University Press 
•1989,296 pp. 
•$54.50, Cloth; $17.95, Paper 

nineteenth-century Amer- 
ica, with its widespread 
literacy and populist press, 
from Carolingian society in 
the eighth and ninth cen- 
turies, is a wide one. This 
is as true of the methodol- 
ogy of scholars who study 
these respective periods as 
it is of the contents of their 
written documents. Yet as 
Rosamund McKitterick 
makes clear in The Caro- 
lingians and the Written 
Word, a meticulously 
crafted work of scholar- 
ship, the ties binding the 
two cultures are not insig- 

Literacy is a prominent 
feature of both, a given for 
nineteenth-century Amer- 
ica, a problematic for the 
remote Carolingian world. 
Indirectly McKitterick 
pulls the two together. She 
demonstrates how the 
Carolingians linked the 
previous Latin-based Ro- 
man world with the later 
medieval period, when 
Western European culture 
seemed to revive as if from 
a deep sleep. Henri Pirenne 
and other eminent histori- 
ans have argued for a de- 
cline of the written word 
during these centuries. 
McKitterick, a self-pro- 
claimed maximalist, uses 
the limited evidence avail- 
able to trace an evolution- 
ary pattern in the eighth 
and ninth centuries, from 
"memory to written rec- 

ord." She demonstrates 
convincingly how central 
writing and literacy were 
to many aspects of Caro- 
lingian culture. 

The evidence available to 
her would not satisfy a 
historian of popular jour- 
nalism. Nor, to be honest, 
is she entirely persuasive 
when she maintains that 
literacy was not limited to 
an "elite" during these 
centuries. By her very own 
definition, the non-elite 
consisted of wealthy, pow- 
erful "nobles." Yet Caro- 
lingian scholars must deal 
with probabilities rather 
than likelihoods, and 
within these limitations it 
is difficult to conceive of 
anyone doing a better job 
of reconstruction than 
McKitterick. She takes the 
available evidence — char- 
ters, laws, monastic rec- 
ords, poetry, manuscripts, 
administrative documents 
— and shows how they 
add up to a literacy perva- 
sive on many social levels. 
Quantitatively such evi- 
dence is thin. Structurally 
it is convincing because of 
its breadth and variety. 

The fascination of this 
book for a historian of 
modern journalism will 
likely rest as much on its 
incidental pleasures as on 
the validity of McKitterick's 
conclusions. She casts a 
spotlight on many aspects 
of Carolingian society: the 
economics of the book 
trade, readership, the 
ways in which government 
made use of literacy in a 
world vastly less complex 
than our own, the interac- 
tion between religion and 
secular life in generating 
texts. There were no 

Book Reviews 


Pulitzers or Northcliffes 
visible in the eighth and 
ninth centuries. But ob- 
scure monks in communi- 
ties like St. Gall, near Lake 
Constance, and scribes and 
notaries in urban centers 
like Zurich are closer to our 
own time than we might on 
the face of it be prepared 
to concede. 

. . . Joel H. Weiner 
City College of New York 


By Roland E. Wolseley. 
• Iowa State University Press 
•1989, 416 pp., 2d ed. 
•$39.95, Cloth; $19.95, Paper 

produced fifteen chapters 
of important information 
on the black press and its 
editors in the second edi- 
tion of The Black Press, 
U.S.A. Unfortunately the 
book is sixteen chapters. 

After a very rough start, 
in which he agonizes over 
the question of a white man 
writing about the black 
press, Wolseley recovers 
with a concise look at the 
history of the press, the 
press today, short biogra- 
phies of important journal- 
ists and journalism educa- 
tors, and comments on the 
quality and futvire of the 

The new edition follows 
the format of its 1971 pre- 
decessor with most chapter 
names unchanged. Almost 
100 additional pages pro- 
vide updated information 
and more illustrations. The 
quality of the illustrations 
is greatly improved. High- 

lights include a summary 
of the rise and fall of the 
National Leader, a national 
weekly launched in 1982, 
the same year as USA To- 
day. One of the better biog- 
raphies is that of Susan L. 
Taylor. She visited Essence 
magazine in 1971 trying to 
sell her cosmetics line, and 
was hired as a part-time 
beauty writer. Within a 
decade she had become 
editor-in-chief of a finan- 
cially successful, socially 
conscious publication 
aimed at black women. 

The quick sketches make 
this book a good source for 
those with limited knowl- 
edge of the black press, and 
for those who want to learn 
more about important in- 
dividuals and publications. 
But there are major prob- 
lems with Wolseley' s vol- 

The first problem is the 
truly unfortunate tone of 
the front matter and first 
chapter. In the foreword, 
Wolseley's former student, 
Robert E. Johnson, now 
executive editor of Jet 
magazine, takes the blame 
for the lack of a black au- 
thor writing the compre- 
hensive work on the black 
press. (The statement is 
reprinted from the first 
edition.) In the preface 
Wolseley brings up con- 
cerns about his perspective 
and attempts, unsuccess- 
fully, to counter critics. 

Things further fall apart 
in chapter 1, which con- 
tains a number of chauvin- 
istic or outdated sections. 
Wolseley vaguely suggests 
that the existence of the 
167-year-old black press 
must be established; he 
claims that blacks are turn- 

ing away from black me- 
dia, according to the ob- 
servations of whites; and 
he concludes with the 
quote, "Without the black 
press, the black man 
would not know who he 
is," a regretable comment, 
unredeemed by the fact 
that it was made by a 
black. The passage on 
whether the press should 
be called "black, Negro, or 
colored" was outdated in 
the first edition. 

Mercifully the chapter 
ends and Wolseley gains 
surer footing in his survey 
of history. A glaring omis- 
sion is the failure to incor- 
porate the findings of 
Henry Lewis Suggs's im- 
portant work. The Black 
Press in the South, 1865- 
1979. Wolseley's sweeping 
approach touches on ma- 
jor papers, but an under- 
standing of the press 
would be enhanced by 
combining comments on 
the regional press and lo- 
cal papers. Suggs's research 
provides such information. 

Another shortcoming is 
the author's segregating of 
female journalists. A sec- 
tion on the early years of 
the press concludes with a 
passage on female journal- 
ists of the period. A chap- 
ter on modem journalists 
provides thirty-eight pages 
of brief biographies fol- 
lowed by eleven pages on 
'Today's Female Journal- 
ists." Even a discussion of 
available books on journal- 
ists omits publications on 
women, notably Alfreda 
Duster's fine work on her 
mother, Ida B. Wells- 

Finally the exploration of 
the press's current and fu- 


AJ /Fall 1990 

ture state seems mired in 
past concerns about mili- 
tancy and integration, as 
opposed to addressing re- 
cent factors such as the 
availability of desktop 
publishing, and the growth 
in community journalism, 
as well as potential links 
with other minorities, par- 
ticularly the Latino press. 
Only a few sentences dis- 
cuss these matters. 

The underlying, discom- 
forting aspect of this book 
is that it is like a white ap- 
proaching a black at a 
cocktail party. Conversa- 
tionally the white inquires 
about the black's position 
and background. On the 
surface all is casual and 
well-meaning, but the di- 
rectness of questions re- 
veals that the white is re- 
ally asking: Who are you? 
Do you deserve to be here 
with us? Are you worth 

Wolseley seeks to answer 
similar questions about the 
black press. At worst the 
effort fumbles. At best he 
provides a concise volume 
about an important form 
of American journalism. 

. . . Karen F. Brown 
University of South Florida 


By David Halliburton. 

• Cambridge University Press 
•1989,336 pp. 

• $37.50, Paper 

nalism and his experience 
as a reporter and foreign 

correspondent have not re- 
ceived the kind of thor- 
ough investigation and as- 
sessment that would prop- 
erly place the man and his 
work within the context of 
journalism history. Pub- 
lished research on Crane's 
journalism has primarily 
come from literary critics 
and scholars who usually 
consider Crane's journal- 
ism as a small part of an 
overall study of his writ- 
ing. Such is the case with 
The Color of the Sky. 

Although this book by 
David Halliburton of Stan- 
ford's Department of Eng- 
lish promises to look at 
Crane's complete writings, 
including the "newswrit- 
ing," only a small amount 
of Crane's journalism is 
given more than a mention. 
Among the pieces dis- 
cussed are some of Crane's 
better known articles: 'The 
Broken-Down Van" and 
'The 'Tenderloin' As It 
Really Is," both of which 
Halliburton calls "studies 
in local color," and "An 
Experiment in Misery," 
"An Experiment in Lux- 
ury," "Stephen Crane's 
Own Story," "Men in the 
Storm," and several of the 
Cuban dispatches. But 
Halliburton's concerns are 
not with the quality or 
kind of journalism Crane 
practiced; his contentions 
and conclusion relate to 
Crane the writer. Crane 
the literary giant. 

When Halliburton does 
consider Crane's journal- 
ism, he uses the articles 
that nicely fit the patterns 
that he identifies in 
Crane's writing, whether 
fiction or nonfiction. For 
example, Halliburton 

undertakes throughout the 
book to define and deline- 
ate Crane's "typological 
imagination," that is. 
Crane's tendency to cap- 
ture and depict society's 
broad types rather than 
particular individuals. In 
his introduction he states: 
"Crane's formative years 
as a reporter could only 
have reinforced whatever 
native disposition he had 
for nosing out all manner 
of typicalities — in the pag- 
eant of American life." 
And that is one way he 
uses the journalism: to 
demonstrate Crane's use 
of types to interpret 
American society. 

On the other hand, 
Halliburton, like other lit- 
erary historians and critics 
before him, accepts as a 
given that Crane was a 
"reporter," a claim that at 
least needs some qualifica- 
tion if not reassessment. 

Many of Halliburton's 
comments and observa- 
tions indicate that Crane's 
journalism often had a 
quality that separated it 
from much of mainstream 
journalism. Those who 
would argue that Crane's 
journalism should be 
treated as literary journal- 
ism, as it has been defined 
over the past decade, will 
find strands of support 
here. Halliburton perceives 
in Crane's journalism pat- 
terns of meaning that re- 
veal a subjective cultural 
interpretation central to lit- 
erary journalism. 

Halliburton's reference 
to "a melange of streetwise 
descriptiveness, dramatic 
miniatures, and mood-in- 
ducing changes of pace" in 
Crane's newspaper articles. 

Book Reviews 


his contention that Crane's 
writing depicts the "human 
condition," his acknowl- 
edgment that several of the 
journalistic sketches "lay 
stronger claim to narrative 
interest" while showing 
"Crane's instinct for story- 
telling" all suggest a liter- 
ary journalistic connection. 
But these connections are 
not explored. 

The Color of the Sky is 
must reading for anyone 
interested in Crane the 
writer. Those interested in 
the cultural history of the 
late nineteenth centiory will 
also find much of merit in 
Halliburton's discussion. 
But those looking for an 
interpretation of Crane's 
journalism would be better 
off looking to previous 
studies (by R.W. Stallman, 
Bernard Weinstein, and 
Alan Trachtenberg, for ex- 
ample) until a more thor- 
ough and definitive study 
is published. 

. . . Thomas B. Connery 
University of St. Thomas 


By Richard Goldstein. 
• Unwin Hyman 
•1989,173 pp. 
•$34.95, Cloth; $14.95, Paper 

to this collection of vi- 
gnettes about music and 
cultural politics circa 
1966-70, Richard Goldstein 
begins with a comment on 
the afterlife of sixties' arti- 
facts. On the same day he 
had stuffed an old tie-<iyed 
shirt back into his bureau 

drawer, he saw a sitcom 
character wearing a simi- 
lar tie-dye. Nor was that 
the only evidence of a fas- 
cination with the expres- 
sive style of twenty years 
ago. But Goldstein took se- 
riously the lesson of the 
current vogue of recuper- 
ating hippie culture, in- 
cluding couture, into a 
brand new mythology. If 
television characters now 
wear tie-dyes, why not re- 
cycle some of his own ar- 
ticles and columns? 

In 1%6 Goldstein had 
taken his masters degree 
in journalism straight to 
the rock 'n' roll beat at the 
Village Voice, where he is 
now a senior editor. His 
book, the fifth in Unwin 
Hyman's Media and Popu- 
lar Culture series, collects 
(after only minor editing) 
over two dozen of his 
pieces, primarily from the 
Village Voice. The first set 
features music, looking at 
Mick Jagger, Tiny Tim, 
Ravi Shankar, and others 
who lived or tried to live 
in the music world. Some 
of the most effective pieces 
here center on the lesser 
knowns, the followers and 
amateurs. The opening se- 
lection, for example, pro- 
files a fourteen-year-old 
would-be Brian Jones, 
proud of his $8.95 hound's- 
tooth hip-hugging bell bot- 
toms, which make him 
look "hung." Two other 
sections (labelled "The 
Mystique" and "The Mad- 
ness," respectively) deal 
with various sixties cul- 
tural phenomena and 
hauntingly brief eruptions 
of political passion and 

One could not reconstruct 

a complete history from 
these shards; on the other 
hand, they excavate what 
may be a rather typical 
passage from joy and de- 
light in the energy and 
exuberance of the sixties 
sensibility, to doubt and 
disgust over its commer- 
cialization and commodifi- 
cation. It ends finally, if 
predictably, in cynicism, 
when Goldstein goes to 
the Algonquin Hotel to 
rap with the Fish about 
revolution and life at the 
barricades. Country Joe 
apparently snickers, before 
going off to brush his 
teeth, 'There isn't going to 
be any revolution. Let's be 

Goldstein characterizes 
the subtext of these dis- 
patches as "the struggle 
for subjectivity"; he sees 
them as examples of his 
own experiments with the 
forms and premises of 
New Journalism, or at 
least one version of it. He 
suggests in the introduc- 
tion that the point of the 
experiment was to allow 
for direct communication 
of reader and writer, with 
full interplay of subjectivi- 
ties; he claims to lack Tom 
Wolfe's ability to maintain 
a tone of detached amuse- 
ment. These pieces may 
not be personal enough, 
however. They substitute 
hip irony for intense prob- 
ing of pain or anger, his 
own or others'. His sugges- 
tion that the Voice engaged 
in little editing twenty 
years ago seems insuffi- 
cient defense of his accep- 
tance of sass and surface 
cleverness, punctuated by 
appalling puns. 

Nor is it always clear 


AJ/Fall 1990 

where Goldstein stood 
while researching those ar- 
ticles about the mutual ex- 
ploitation and cooperation 
of pop personalities and 
reporters. One column 
alxjut Toronto hippies 
mocks the broadcast re- 
porter who ordered a local 
hippie to undress and 
dress again for benefit of 
cameramen. But this piece 
fails to mention where the 
author was; the "I" is miss- 
ing. And while no one can 
fault Goldstein for his poli- 
tics, the issue may be 
whether he uses the Vase- 
line he brought to the 1968 
Democratic Convention 
not only to protect himself 
from tear gas but also from 
his own unexamined as- 
sumptions and status. Ad- 
mitting that his psyche de- 
mands distance and the 
safety of a press card is 
different from examining 
that mindset. 

Furthermore, it is not 
clear how (or why) these 
stories might resonate for 
readers who grew up ei- 
ther before or after the six- 
ties. On the other hand, 
the book successfully 
evokes the era for readers 
of Goldstein's generation. 
And the introduction 
raises a number of pro- 
vocative and significant is- 
sues about the theory and 
practice of New Journal- 
ism and about continuing 
struggles to resist com- 
modification, depersonal- 
ization, and homogeniza- 

. . . Linda Steiner 
Rutgers University 

ACT OF 1934. 

Edited by Max Paglin. 

• Oxford University Press 

• $95, Clotti 

eth anniversary of the 
Communications Act, the 
Golden Jubilee Commis- 
sion on Telecommunica- 
tions and the Federal 
Communications Bar As- 
sociation sponsored this 
collection of essay and 
original documents on the 
1934 statute. 

The work includes essays 
by Glen O. Robinson, a 
former FCC Comissioner 
and professor of law at the 
University of Virginia, on 
the origins of radio regula- 
tion; Kenneth A. Cox, 
another former commis- 
sioner, and William J. 
Byrnes, on the act's com- 
mon-carrier provisions; J. 
Roger Wollenberg on the 
statute's public interest 
clause; and Ronald A. 
Cass, professor of law at 
Boston University, on the 
Commission's original au- 
thority. These analyses are 
followed by reproductions 
of the Roper Report, which 
recommended the law. 
Senate and House commit- 
tee hearings and reports, 
and floor debates on the 

Anyone who has had to 
track down the congres- 
sional deliberations of 
1934 will find A Legislative 
History a very welcome 
reference. It should prove 
especially valuable to 
those students who wish 
to study the legislation but 

lack the patience or com- 
petence for library re- 
search. The essays are well 
written and clear, though 
the authors, all trained in 
the law, define 'legislative 
history" narrowly. That is, 
they consider court prece- 
dent and public debate 
and not the private man- 
uevering that made the act 
ineffectual. Put differently, 
only the law library was 
visited. Recent work by 
historians, including stud- 
ies by Philip Rosen and 
Robert W. McChesney, is 
not consulted. 

Nevertheless, A Legisla- 
tive History is well worth 
owning or having nearby 
in the college or depart- 
mental library. 

. . . James L. Baughman 
University of Wisconsin 


By Jim Willis. 

• Greenwood 

•1989,224 pp. 

•$45, Cloth; $14.95, Paper 

ordinator of the news-edi- 
torial program at Ball State 
University, tells us in a 
preface that he has written 
a book that introduces 
journalism students and 
journalists to research in 
the field done in the 1980s. 
And, he says, it also intro- 
duces journalistic re- 
searchers and practitioners 
to each other. The first ob- 
jective comes off well, but 
it is less certain that num- 
ber two quite makes it, or 

Book Reviews 


ever will, for that matter. 
Meanwhile, his book is 
both usefiil and sobering. 

What he has done is re- 
ally a simple proposition, 
one of those Why didn't I 
think of that? book ideas. 
It organizes some two 
hundred research studies 
published during the last 
decade, chiefly from the 
pages of Journalism Quar- 
terly and the Newspaper Re- 
search Journal, and summa- 
rizes the findings in eight 
chapters. They include such 
topics as 'The Journalist 
According to Research," 
"Polling and Precision 
Journalism," "Advertising 
in the 1980s," and "Elec- 
tronic Publishing and 
Other Wonders," to name 
half the titles. The organi- 
zation of the material is 
logical and the writing is 
clear, as clear as one can be 
in summarizing longer 
studies. A large body of 
research on journalism has 
come and gone in the last 
ten years, and it tells us 
more than a little about the 
threads that make up the 
fabric of U.S. journalism. 

Willis has created a book 
with built-in utility. 
Whether it merits class 
adoption will be a tough 
call. Do you want a stu- 
dent to get the benefit of 
reading a complete study, 
or does the overview pro- 
vided by Willis suffice? 
And, do we want to feed 
students (or ourselves) a 
diet limited to JQ and 
NRJ7 This approach ex- 
cludes studies published 
elsewhere that may illumi- 
nate research from the pe- 

Willis's prologue gives 
us "The Fiver and The 

Plain: The Context of Jour- 
nalistic Research," restat- 
ing the issues dividing 
journalism research and 
educators on one side and 
the journalism profession 
on the other. The docu- 
mented fact that not many 
journalists read scholarly 
publications should come 
as no surprise. A research 
journal is a research jour- 
nal is a research journal. 
The studies are narrow, 
but JQ, for example, is de- 
signed as an academic 
smorgasbord of refereed 
manuscripts, not to be read 
like a Tom Clancy novel or 
Editor and Publisher. It's 
difficult to understand why 
we must continue to worry 
about whether or not re- 
search studies are useful. 
Nothing is so useful as a 
good theory or a stimulat- 
ing piece of research, even 
if the usefulness is only in 
the mind of some readers. 
Willis's epilogue collects 
short essays by journal 
editors and others about 
the state of journalism re- 
search, plus a Willis sur- 
vey, all grouped under the 
title, "Researchers, Jour- 
nalists and the Feud." The 
journalism educators re- 
mind us that at least some 
published research is "use- 
ful" and that journalism 
researchers are often en- 
gaged in research for prac- 
titioners. The split person- 
ality of journalism educa- 
tors (David Weaver says 
we fall into four types) lets 
us know there are gaps 
within academe, as well as 
a gap between academe 
and practitioners. Willis's 
survey of 350 editors and 
executives reinforces, in a 
thoughtful and specific 

way, the notion that the 
gap exists. 

The prologue and epi- 
logue are a sobering open- 
ing and closing for the 
book, reminding us of the 
unsettled debate about 
academic research in a 
professional discipline. If 
you want to avoid being 
depressed, you may want 
to skip the debate and 
read only chapters 1 
through 8. 

. . . Wallace B. Eberhard 
University of Georgia 


By William B. Ray. 

• Iowa State University Press 
•1990,214 pp. 

• $24.95, Cloth 

casting regulation in the 
United States has been 
quite tumultuous at times. 
At the center of events has 
been the Federal Commu- 
nications Commission, es- 
tablished under the Com- 
munications Act of 1934 to 
succeed the Federal Radio 
Commission and charged 
with regulating broadcast- 
ing for the "public interest, 
convenience and neces- 

Since most members of 
the commission have been 
political appointees of 
presidents who knew 
nothing about communica- 
tions law, the commission- 
ers' interpretations of the 
regulations, and particu- 
larly of the concept of 
"public interest," have left 


AJ/Fall 1990 

something to be desired. 
During some administra- 
tions the FCC has per- 
formed well, owing to the 
outstanding leadership of 
chairpersons such as 
Newton Minow, Dean 
Burch, and Richard Wiley. 
More often, however, 
political favoritism has 
marred the image of the 
commission. In fact, during 
the Reagan administration, 
the FCC literally aban- 
doned the public interest 
guidelines in favor of a 
"free marketplace" concept 
and deregulation. 

In his book, William Ray 
relates many incidents in 
the history of broadcasting 
regulation in which cor- 
ruption, political maneu- 
vering, and indecision ad- 
versely affected the rulings 
of the commission. As 
chief of the Complaints 
and Compliance Division 
of the FCC for seventeen 
years, Ray approaches this 
study as an authoritative 
insider with access to in- 
formation not previously 
available. Before joining 
the FCC in 1%1, Ray 
worked as a broadcast 
journalist for thirty years, 
part of that time as news 
director for NBC's mid- 
western division. 

Ray divides his book into 
eight chapters that reflect 
the areas of his concern. 
Three chapters deal with 
specific issues in regula- 
tion: "News Ehstortion," 
"The FCC V. Obscene/In- 
decent Language," and 
"The Fairness Doctrine." 
Two others, "The Radio 
Medicine Men" and 'The 
Radio Preachers," are basi- 
cally early radio history, 
with a few exceptions, in- 

cluding an interesting dis- 
cussion of a 1982 FCC de- 
cision involving evangelist 
Jim Bakker. The remain- 
der, "Political Clout," 'The 
FCC and Congress," and 
the final chapter, "The 
Reagan Commission: A 
National Disgrace," are 
concerned with the politi- 
cal influence of presidents 
and members of Congress 
on the workings of the 

Each of the chapters in- 
cludes discussions of sev- 
eral case histories related 
to the subject matter, some 
no more than a page long, 
a few eight or nine pages 
long. The case studies will 
be familiar to anyone who 
knows the history of 
broadcasting regulation, 
and many of the sources 
will be readily recogniz- 
able. However, the most 
valuable features of Ray's 
work are his analyses and 
criticism of the cases and 
his inclusion of previously 
unpublished facts regard- 
ing FCC decisions and de- 
cision making, based on 
his personal experiences as 
an FCC staff member. For 
example, Ray tells of sev- 
eral instances where the 
FCC commissioners voted 
against the recommenda- 
tions of the hearing exam- 
iners even when the evi- 
dence was overwhelm- 
ingly on the side of the ex- 
aminers. The onus was 
then placed on the staff 
counsel to write a rationale 
for the decision. 

Ray's book is well-writ- 
ten and readable. He treats 
this serious subject with a 
sense of humor, except, 
perhaps, when discussing 
the Reagan commission. 

His book is a useful addi- 
tion to the history of 
broadcasting regulation 
and an insightful guide to 
the workings of a govern- 
ment regulatory agency. 

. . . Philip J. Lane 

California State University, 





BEASLEY, Maurine H. 
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CAREY, James W. 
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CAREY, James W. 
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GODFREY, Donald G. 
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GRIFRN, Michael. 
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LIST, Karen. 

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'Telling the Story of 
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MCINTYRE, Jerilyn S. 
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MARVIN, Carolyn. 
"Reconsidering James 
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MITCHELL, Catherine C. 
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MITCHELL, Catherine C. 
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NERONE, John. 
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RAPP, Dean. 
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REED, Barbara Straus. 
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SCHUDSON, Michael. 
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Daniel Defoe: His Life. 
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BAKER, Russell. 
The Good Times. Rev. by 
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With a stylometric 


AJ/Fall 1990 

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BODDY, WiUiam. 
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Making Meaning: Inference 
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BRANDON, Henry. 
Special Relationships: A 
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BROWN, Richard D. 
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BROWNE, Donald R. 
Comparing Broadcast Sys- 
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LYNES, Barbara Buhler. 
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Chamorro. La Prensa: 
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CHANG, Wan Ho. 

Mass Media in China: The 
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CHARTIER, Roger, ed., 
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COHEN, Jeremy. 
Congress Shall Make No 
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COMSTOCK, George. 
The Evolution of American 
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DAVIS, Linda H. 
Onward and Upward: A 
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DIAMOND, Edwin, and 
Stephen Bates. The Spot: 
The Rise of Political Adver- 
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Journalistic Standards in 
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DOHERTY, Thomas. 
Teenagers and Teenpics: 
The Juvenilization of 
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DONAHUE, Hugh Carter. 
The Battle to Control 

Broadcast News: Who 
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DONOVAN, Hedley. 
Right Times, Right Places: 
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DOUGLAS, Melvyn, and 
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nSKE, John. 
Television Culture. See 
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Mary Heaton Vorse: The 
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GILMORE, William J. 
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GOLDSTEIN, Richard. 
Reporting the Countercul- 
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Justin. Political Censorship 



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Killing the Messenger: 100 
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GRIFFITH, Sally Foreman. 
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The Color of the Sky: A 
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HARMON, Steven W. 
The St. Josephs-Blatt, 
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HILMES, Michele. 
Hollywood and Broadcast- 
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HUNT, William R. 
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JACKSON, Carlton. 
Hattie: The Life of Hattie 
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KATSH, M. Ethan. 
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KING, S. Cari. 
The Photographic Impres- 
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LABUNSKI, Richard. 
Libel and the First Amend- 
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LEVINE, Lawrence W. 
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The Art of Fact: Contempo- 
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LULL, James, ed. 
World Families Watch Tele- 
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MCKERNS, Joseph P. 

Biographical Dictionary of 
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Western Images of China. 
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MAHARIDGE, Dale, and 
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MAYO, Louise A. 
The Ambivalent Image: 
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MCKI'lTHKICK, Rosamund. 
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The Dialectic in Journal- 
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AJ/Fall 1990 

MILTON, Joyce. 
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STEPHENS, Mitchell. 
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